Thursday, October 18, 2018

NC's First Day of "Early Voting" (Even Though We've Been Voting for a Few Weeks Now)

Wednesday, October 17th was the first day of what many refer to as North Carolina's 'early voting,' even though voters have been requesting and returning ballots for some time now through the mail.

The state's start of absentee onestop ballots, sometimes referred to as 'in-person early voting,' began with a significant run at the numbers. The following shows some comparative analysis for the beginning of a popular method of voters casting ballots. This data comes from the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement and can be found here.

First, a note on comparing this year's in-person 'early votes' to other mid-term election years: 2010 had a window of 17 days, while 2014 had a window of only 10 days. This year's window of 18 days will therefore be much different in the past, but the comparison may be helpful to show some trends.

The overall totals of NC's absentee ballots, both for mail and in-person:

Nearly 133,000 North Carolinians cast an early ballot on the first day (those 'accepted' under Absentee OneStop (In-Person)). Nearly 16,000 have submitted an absentee by mail ballot and have had their ballot accepted.

To give a sense of how 2018's number so far compare to the final totals for 2014's absentee ballots (both mail and in-person):

To compare the overall trend line for 2018 and the past two mid-term elections:

And the trend lines for voter party registration to the past two mid-terms:

Overall, the first day's in-person accepted ballots by party registration breaks down as:

In looking at age and generational cohorts, the mean age of in-person accepted ballot voters is 61 years old, with voters under the age of 37 making up only 10 percent of the early votes:

To give some comparative sense of how generations are performing (under or over) their 10-13-18 NC voter registration pool data:

A plurality of NC's 7 million registered voters are under the age of 37 years old, but a significant majority of the first day of NC's early votes are from voters over the age of 54 years old.

With the state's "blue-moon" election cycle (meaning, there's no major state-wide race such as U.S. Senate or governor), the focus of attention is on congressional races, along with interest in state issues such as six constitutional amendments. Here are the early votes by congressional district and party registration within each district:

What's interesting is that the 11th Congressional District, with what is considered a 'safe' Republican seat in the mountains of North Carolina (held by Mark Meadows), saw the most votes come in from across the state. In previous blog posts, it was noted that in absentee by mail ballots, the competitive 9th Congressional District was leading in mail-in requests. A couple more days of data would help to flesh out what is going on in the various districts and see if the competitive ones (the 9th, along with the 13th and 2nd) see a boast of votes in those areas.

Another aspect for looking at early voters is, did they participate in the last mid-term election, and if so, how did the vote? This chart gives a sense of the 2014 vote method and/or registration status of the 133,000 in-person voters:

A majority of 2018's first day early voters used the same voting method four years, but 18 percent voted on Election Day in 2014 and 11 percent didn't vote in 2014 but were eligible/registered to do so:

Thirteen percent of NC's first day early voters registered after 2014.

And within party registration:

2018's first day of in-person absentee voting saw a nearly even split between women and men casting ballots:

Surprisingly, mail absentee ballots have seen a ratio of 57 percent female to 42 percent male in recent days.

Another aspect when it comes to the potential gender gap in this year's election is based on region and party:

The above two charts places both men and women into four distinct 'regions' within the state: voters who live in an Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) central city; those voters within that MSA urban county but outside the central city; the surrounding suburban counties; and, rural counties.

To give a sense of comparison, the 10-13-18 voter registration pool data shows women to be 53 percent of the registered voters, with party registration breakdown for both:

The racial composition of NC's first day of early voting shows that white voters are three-quarters of the first day early voters:

Again, for comparison to the overall voter registration pool:

Finally, a comparison of 2018's first day to 2014's final totals for both mail and in-person absentee ballots (both requested and accepted):

And the percentage change of daily totals for 2010 (remember, 17 days of early voting) and 2014 (10 days of early voting) to think about what we might expect going forward in 2018:

I'll try to post daily updates of this information to my twitter accounts: @oldnorthstpol and @BowTiePolitics.