NC Early Voting: Dems Outnumber GOP, but Gap Significantly Smaller than in 2008

One-stop early voting has been underway for several days in North Carolina. Democracy North Carolina is out with a new analysis of turnout in the first three days of early voting. Not surprisingly, as we are seeing everywhere, there is an increase in the number of people who are choosing to vote early or vote by mail. Early voting is noticeably higher this year compared with the last midterm election in 2006.

The good news for Democrats is that more registered Democrats than registered Republicans have voted so far, but the bad news is that the gap has narrowed dramatically since 2010. From Democracy North Carolina:

After three days, a total of 72,173 voters have cast one-stop ballots. That’s more than twice the 35,728 cast at the same point in the previous midterm election of 2006 and even more than the 70,645 in the 2004 presidential election. In 2008, a surprising 266,649 voters crowded one-stop centers in the first three days.

So far this year, registered Democrats are edging out Republicans by 31,910 to 27,623. By contrast, after three days in 2008, Democrats were swamping Republicans by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio – at that point, 163,321 votes to 58,748.

The huge surge in Democratic early voting in 2008 was driven by African American Democrats supporting Barack Obama. It is unlikely to be repeated this year.

Overall, this should be a mildly reassuring sign for Democrats, given that one of their top concerns is that the enthusiasm gap would lead to overwhelming Republican turnout.

The assumption in most pollsters’ likely voter models is that a lot more Republican-leaning voters than Democrat-leaning voters are going to turn out. This is responsible for as much as a ten-point advantage for some GOP candidates in some polls. If the turnout gap is smaller than expected, Democrats could slightly outperform some of the polling.