This is the first in a twice-weekly series of updates detailing pre-Election Day voter turnout across North Carolina in near real time, employing State Board of Elections data. New installments appear here on the Insight(us) Blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 PM ET through Nov. 7th.
< | Fwd to 10 Oct >
Part 1: Turnout Trends Through 3 October 2016
First, a note of caution: it’s early days yet, so try to keep things in perspective. Absentee vote-by-mail ballots have only just begun trickling in to the Board of Elections (just 16,462 have been returned so far). The trends we spot at this very early stage may or may not hold up as voting progresses. So we suggest you take these early trends with a grain of salt. But just how large a grain is up to you.
A promising start, but fading?
Absentee voting by mail sprinted off the starting line last month (relative to the same period in 2012), but in recent days has faded slightly, so that as of 3 October turnout (voted ballots as a percentage of the state’s registered voters) has begun to fall slightly behind 2012’s performance (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Absentee voting turnout through 3 October. ‘Turnout’ is expressed here as the percentage of the state’s registered voters who have returned completed absentee ballots to the Board of Elections. Blue line: 2016 turnout to date. Red line: 2012 turnout for the same interval.
African American Voters Are Ahead of the Curve
The good news for voting rights champions this week is that, among all the demographic groups we looked at (whites, blacks, males and females), only one is performing consistently better than in 2012: African Americans. In the face of persistent NC-GOP attempts at voter suppression (new details of which are revealed in our latest investigative report), are black voters saying “Oh hell no you don’t”? Figure 2 compares their turnout so far to that of white voters.
Figure 2: White (top panel) and Black (bottom panel) absentee voting turnout through 3 October.
Absentee voting by mail has traditionally been weaker among North Carolina’s black voters than among whites, and remains that way so far this year (note the difference in Y axis scales between the two panels of Fig. 2). But Fig. 2 may give an early indication of continuing strong African American turnout to come throughout this election.
Black voters comprise an unusually high 22% of North Carolina’s electorate, and among them Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 30-to-1.
In next Tuesday’s second installment in this continuing series we’ll explore additional demographic groups’ performance – including the important youth vote.
Y’all come back now, hear?