Tuesday, October 21, 2008

North Carolina Early Voting Update

Two polls out today with some data on NC early voting, so here's the latest. (For up to the minute early voting results around the country, click here.)

First, Survey USA has updated it's NC sample, with polling through Oct. 20. In the new SUSA poll, 14% of respondents reported that they had already voted. Of those, Obama leads handily by a margin of 59%-36%, or 23 points.

That's a bit lower than in the initial SUSA poll a couple weeks ago, where only 5% had already voted and Obama led by 65%-31%.

The Survey USA poll matches up pretty well with what the NC Board of Elections is reporting (see below), with about 14% of likely voters having already cast ballots. Since about 56% of those voters are Democrats, Obama is also picking up some independent voters, which is good.

A second poll was released by NCCivitas, in which 4% of the sample volunteered that they had already voted (this is from a personal communication with the poll's spokesperson). Again, Obama had a large lead amongst those voters, 64%-32%.

By all accounts, the demographics of the early voting in NC have heavily favored Democrats, so Obama's margin is no surprise in these polls. Here's the latest demographic info from NC:

Early votes: 481,468
Percent white: 68.3%
Percent black: 28.8% (Note: blacks are 20% of NC registered voters)
Percent Democrat: 56.11%
Percent Republican: 27.39
2008 early vote as % of 2004 total vote: 13.75%

The question is whether he can keep it up as early voting proceeds, or whether the lead will gradually diminish. The polls show overall that NC is a virtual tie, but as SUSA notes, the outcome may hinge heavily on turnout amongst African-Americans. If they turnout above historical rates, NC could go for Obama, elect a new Democratic Senator and have a Democratic Governor.

Notably, Obama is doing slightly better in early voting that his downticket Democratic running mates, Kay Hagan for Senate and Bev Perdue for Governor. Hagan's early voting margin over incumbent Senator Liddy Dole is 56%-37%, while Perdue's margin is 54%-41%.

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