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Thursday, October 27, 2016


Survey says: Suppression

by Tom Sullivan

State summary data for NC early voting through 10/25.

The New York Times highlights data I download every morning once early voting begins:

There also aren’t many states with better election data than North Carolina. The state releases detailed, individual-level information on every voter in the state. It even publishes a daily account of who has voted early, either in person or by mail.
It's terribly useful data. The Times is conducting an experiment in projecting results from the party affiliation of those who have already voted and from its Upshot/Siena survey:
Already, about 812,000 people have voted in North Carolina, out of about 4,425,000 we think will eventually vote. Based on the voting history and demographic characteristics of those people, we think Hillary Clinton leads in North Carolina by about 6 percentage points. We think she has an even larger lead – 22 percentage points – among people who have already voted.
Those early voters tend to be older Democrats. But as the Times observes, this is not a reliable predictor of how they vote in national elections, "a significant slice of them are conservative, older white Democrats who have been voting Republican in presidential elections." Nonetheless, while both major parties have lost registration in recent years, population growth and registration still favor Democrats, and the ranks of UNAffiliated voters are growing. There is concern about turnout in the hurricane-impacted areas along the coast. The Times continues:
Two things have changed, albeit slightly. First, our estimate for the final turnout has gradually declined. That’s because early voting has been a little slower this year than in 2012. Part of the reason is that there are some North Carolina counties where the number of in-person early voting stations has been scaled back. This has clearly reduced the number of early voters. We have made no adjustment for this effect, which should gradually diminish once more polling stations open on Oct. 27.
The block of early voting sites that opens today includes some of the largest counties in the state. As I noted in September, there is more to this than the Times explains:
The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, Dallas Woodhouse, last month urged Republican Board of Elections appointees across the state's 100 counties to “make party line changes to early voting” to limit early voting sites and hours. In its July ruling that threw out much of the the state's massive voter suppression law, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored a week of early voting the law cut from the fall schedule. Local election plans had to be reworked, and nearly a third of county boards did just what Woodhouse asked. (With a Republican in the governor's mansion, 3-member county boards across the state are weighted 2-1 Republican to Democrat.) Another NCGOP official urged Republican county board members to provide only a single voting site for the extra week and the minimum hours allowed by law.
Many did. The impact of that effort to suppress the vote is clear:
Perhaps the most egregious county is Guilford, a county of 517,600 people, of which 57.9 percent is White, and gave Obama 58 percent of the vote in 2012. The county opened 16 in-person early voting locations in 2012, but has only their central election office open in 2016. The number of in-person voters on the first Thursday and Friday was 21,560 in 2012, but was only 3,305 in 2016, a decrease of 18,255 or 85 percent.
Bill Busa illustrates the suppressive effect starkly at Insight(u)s:

Nonetheless, the Times' chart shows Clinton widening her margin against Trump as voting continues. But Republicans tend to "bat last" in North Carolina. An early lead can be as deceptive as the numbers of registered Democrats who vote Republican for president. Still, if the trend continues, Republicans will have a greater and perhaps insurmountable deficit to make up in the bottom of the ninth (Election Day).

Today, Guilford County goes from 1 early voting site to 25 and Forsyth goes from 1 to 17.