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Tuesday, November 01, 2016


One week to go

by Tom Sullivan

By Schwede66 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Over a week of early voting was behind North Carolina when James Comey made his infamous email disclosure. Over one and a half million votes already had been cast. Across the country, the New York Times reported yesterday, over 22 million votes are already in.

That won't keep skittish Democrats from fretting about how it might affect the election in North Carolina. But a large block of early voting sites came online last Thursday in Guilford (Greensboro) and Forsyth (Winston-Salem) counties and Sunday was a “souls to the polls” voting day in many counties across the state. Hillary For America organizers from the western part of the state rushed into Forsyth for the weekend to get out the vote. Early voting has seen a spike since Thursday.

Politico reports:

Democrats are now ahead of Republicans by 13.5 percent in the early vote, he said, but it may not be enough: Republicans are overperforming their own 2012 early vote numbers.

"Until they actually exceed 2012 numbers," McDonald said of Democrats, "I think they're going to be very nervous about where they're sitting with early voting in North Carolina."

"Republicans tend to win on Election Day," said Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, in a recent interview.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are expected in North Carolina to boost get-out-the-vote efforts on the heels of visits by Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Tim Kaine.

The Times reports that across the country early voting is up over 2012 numbers in eleven states, including among Hispanic voters. Voting by young people is down, however, in many of those same states. Voting among black voters is down as well.

Insightus, a North Carolina data analysis nonprofit, points to several reasons why voting in the black community is down in 2016. They contrast counties affected by hurricane damage with those impacted by reduced access to voting and "Suppressed Counties" where GOP-controlled county Boards of Election limited the first week of early voting to a single location, the board office:
These are the 17 counties whose Republican-controlled boards of elections drastically cut the number of Week 1 Early Voting sites for 2016. In the most egregious case (Guilford County, in north-central NC) that amounted to a cut from 16 sites in 2012 down to 1 site in 2016. But in terms of sheer numbers of black voters affected, Mecklenburg County (the state’s largest, and home to Charlotte) impacted the most black voters by far (nearly 15% of all the state’s African American voters).

The take-home lesson here is that Mother Nature hath no fury like a Republican pol scorned: while flooding of biblical proportions certainly hasn’t helped voter turnout, this year voter suppression appears to substantially outstrip Hurricane Matthew as a force depressing North Carolina’s African American vote. Of course, it still must be explained why black voting is also slightly down in the state’s unimpaired counties, and here a variety of factors are no doubt at play, ranging from mild voter disengagement to forms of voter suppression more subtle than locked polling place doors.
Politico adds:
Wake County, home to Raleigh, has been a brighter spot for Democratic early vote performance -- in part due to nine early voting locations that opened two weeks ago and another 11 that opened Thursday. The county is crucial to Democratic prospects — it is the second-biggest county in the state, and Democrats must run up big numbers there in order to compensate for the redder rural areas. As of Saturday night, 54 percent of Wake County’s 2012 early total was already in, according to Bitzer’s calculations, and that number was expected to climb. Heavily Democratic Mecklenburg County, the biggest in the state, he said, was also showing signs of strength for Democrats.
For all its size and Democratic registration, Mecklenburg has not had the turnout performance of Wake in recent statewide elections. That makes it more of a deal-breaker than a deal-maker for Democrats. How much, we will know in one week. Key races for governor and U.S. Senate remain tight.