With over 2 million ballots cast, North Carolina early voting shows Democrats leading Republicans 48 percent to 32 percent. The growing number of independent voters and 2008 trends, however, indicate that the race for the battleground state is still too close to call.
In 2008, Obama won North Carolina by 14,000 votes. That’s less than half a percentage point. In order for Obama to repeat his win in North Carolina, he would have to maintain similar levels of early voting succes. While the Democratic lead in North Carolina early voting this year indicates some success, it may not be enough to win him the battleground state. In 2008, his early voting record showed a stronger lead, with early voters favoring him 51 percent to 30 percent. Because he won the state by such a small margin, any decrease in 2012 could prevent him from winning the 15 electoral votes.
Furthermore, independent voters in the state have seen the largest increase since 2008, rising from 1.4 to 1.7 million voters. Republicans saw an increase of around 44,000 in registration while voters registering Democratic dropped around 7,500 voters. North Carolina voters registered Democratic still outnumber Republicans and independents, but not by much.The state is comprised of 2.8 million Democrats, 2 million Republicans, and around 1.7 million unaffiliated voters.
“We’re not a two-party state,” says Bob Hall, director of the Durham-based nonpartisan advocacy group called Democracy North Carolina. “We’re a state where the two parties have to continually sell themselves to the voters.”
When it comes to presidential picks, North Carolina polls show independent voters favor Romney, who now holds a commanding double digit lead among non-leaning independent voters.
Statewide polls similarly show Romney in the lead, with Real Clear Politics averaging Romney at 49.8% of the likely vote and Obama at 46. This 3.8% lead could be enough to tip the state in favor of Romney, an essential win in his path to 270.
Overall, PollTracker Average shows voters Romney maintains his lead, despite North Carolina early voting numbers.
*Information regarding North Carolina voter registration in 2008 versus 2012 has been modified after errors drawn to my attention from a reader.