The early voting numbers in North Carolina are trickling in, and they don’t look good for Romney. Democrats lead Republicans 50%-31% in early voting, turnout is up 20% overall, and young voter turnout is up 24%.
The Obama campaign’s attempt to win North Carolina for a second time is built on getting voters who are don’t vote in every election registered and voting early. Since July, Democrats have almost doubled Republicans in new voter registrations, 120,000-68,000. Since 2008, the number of African Americans who have registered to vote in the state has increased by 168,000. So far these efforts are paying off in early voting, as Democrats who didn’t vote in 2010 are outvoting Republicans by a 2 to 1 margin.
African-American voters make up 22% of North Carolina’s electorate, and their early voting turnout is up 23% over 2008. African Americans have already cast 72,000 more ballots in North Carolina than at the same time in 2008. Turnout among young voters is also up 24%, and it is a pretty safe bet that the vast majority of these young and African-American voters aren’t showing up to support Romney.
Overall, 50% of the early votes that have been cast have been by Democrats. Thirty one percent have come from Republicans. Early voting turnout is up 20% over the same point in 2008, and 1.3 million votes cast (an increase of 277,000 over this point in 2008.)
Unlike Ohio where both the polls and the early voting numbers both favor Obama, the polls in North Carolina show a tie or small Romney lead. The Republicans wanted to have North Carolina wrapped up by now, and they don’t. Romney has been unable to close the deal in the state, and if President Obama can pile up a huge early voting edge, Romney may have to fight for a state that his campaign wants everyone to believe is in the bag.
Obama only won North Carolina by 14,000 votes in 2008, and it would surprise no one if Romney won it in 2012. One thing that is becoming clear is that whoever wins the state will not have a large margin of victory. It would not be surprising if the Tar Heel State was decided by a similarly small margin to that of 2008.
Don’t believe the bluster coming from the Romney campaign about North Carolina. It is far from a done deal. In fact, either candidate could still win the state.
While Republicans have stepped up their early voting game, it wouldn’t be shocking if the vastly superior Obama ground game kept the state blue in 2012.
The Romney campaign is trying to depress Democratic early voting turnout by claiming the state is a done deal for him. If you haven’t voted yet, go vote.
Because just like in 2008, your vote could be the margin of victory in North Carolina.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association