Early voting is over in North Carolina, and now is the time for political junkies to pour over the turnout data - trying to decipher which politicians are on the path to victory in tomorrow's election. This is the "horse race" sort of coverage that produces a lot of heat but little light.
Early voting turnout can indicate a level of enthusiasm among the electorate, as the 2018 performance would lead us to believe. But if election night turnout is low, it just means the political parties cannibalized their votes. You want to have high turnout in the early voting period that is compromised of different voters than those who vote on Election Day.
With that in mind, it's obvious that a lot of people are motivated to vote in this year's "Blue Moon" election in NC. It's called that because it is very rare when there is no statewide federal office on the ballot - like President or US Senate. Historically, when this is the case, turnout is lower.
If we compare this year's midterm early voting turnout in Buncombe County to the 2014 midterm early voting turnout, it's about 70% higher this year.
According to the Citizen-Times:
All told, 35,784 registered Democrats cast ballots. The party makes up 38.4 percent of all registered voters in the county
Unaffiliated voters, who account for 37.4 percent of the county's registered voters, cast about 25,762 the ballots during early voting this fall.
Republicans cast 15,954 ballots. The GOP constitutes 23.4 percent of the county's voters.
If you compare the Democratic ballots to the 77,762 early votes cast, you see that Democrats over-achieved their 38% of registered voters, as 46% of the voters were Democrats. That would be a +8 margin.
Unaffiliated voters under-achieved their 37% registration figure - with only 33% of early voters being registered Unaffiliated. Accounting for a -4 margin.
Republicans also under-performed - with only 21% of early voters being registered GOP, while making up 23% of the total Buncombe registered voter pool. A -2 margin.
Of course, we should not assume that Democratic voters vote only for Democrats, as Western NC has a long history of "Blue Dog Democrats" who tend to be more conservative.
In other words... we'll see after the polls close and the rest of the votes are counted tomorrow night.
Jonathan Kappler is the Executive Director of the NC Free Enterprise Foundation. He says he'll be watching competitive state House and Senate districts in Wake and Mecklenburg Counties, where Democrats have their best shot at flipping enough seats to "Break the Supermajority" enjoyed by the Republican legislature.
There are 120 state House seats and 50 state Senate seats on the ballot.
If Democrats win four House seats -OR- six Senate seats, the GOP loses its super-majority. This means overriding a gubernatorial veto becomes more difficult for the Republican legislature, allowing Governor Roy Cooper (D) to more easily influence legislation.
Pete's Prep Sheet: Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
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