An Analysis By Susan Myrick Special to NC Capitol Connection
Early turnout numbers point to what may be an ominous trend for Democrats.
With the help of Civitas’ NC Vote Tracker, it was easy to spot something that may spell trouble for the Democrats in North Carolina. Early voting numbers show 21,824 Democrat women (60.8 percent of the total) voted in the early voting period of the June 7 special primary – compared to only 13,896 men (38.7 percent).
NC Vote Tracker also allowed us to look back at previous elections to see if this finding was an outlier or something the Democrat party had experienced previously. Surprisingly, the percentage disparity between men and women in the Democrat Party appears to be the norm, at least since the 2008 General Election.
The gender gap appears to be missing in the Republican Party and among unaffiliated voter turnout in the June 7 special election and previous elections back to 2008. On the Republican side of the June 7 early voting turnout, there was only a 162-votes difference between men and women: 16,660 Republican women voted early in this election – that’s 50 percent of the Republican vote compared to 16,498 GOP men (49.5 percent of the party’s vote.)
Then there’s the unaffiliated voters, where men out-voted women in voter turnout. According to NC Vote Tracker, 9,380 (51.1 percent) unaffiliated men voted early compared to 8,765 (47.7 percent) women.
Couple the gender disparity in election turnout with the tremendous decline in the Democrat party’s voter registration in North Carolina and these findings cannot bode well for the Democrats this year. According to the Civitas’ voter registration database, found on www.carolinatransparency.com/voterregistration, Democrats made up over 45 percent of the electorate in January 2009. But they now make up 40.2 percent of eligible voters in the state.
Republican percentages have slipped too; in 2009 they made up 31.9 percent of voters. compared to today when they make up 30.5 percent of eligible voters. Having grown by nearly one-half million voters in the past eight years, it’s easy to see, using Civitas’ voter registration database, that voters are choosing the unaffiliated ranks over the two political parties. (See pages 10 and 11 for more on recent voter registration trends.)
No one can deny North Carolina’s political landscape has changed since 2008. Democrats are no longer in charge in the legislature or the Governor’s Mansion, and the voter registration numbers and voter turnout seem to tell a story about how that is happening.
This article also appears in the June NC Capitol Connection newspaper.