News in this a.m.'s Raleigh N&O says that the number of North Carolina citizens who took advantage of early voting may hit 1 million. That raw number, astounding as it is, conceals something else of far greater significance: Democrats came out for early voting in far greater numbers than Republicans, a statistic that, if it holds true on Tuesday, will make North Carolina a surprise swing state Tuesday night.
We received word this a.m. from Mecklenburg County that Democrats out-polled Republicans in that county by some 6,000 voters. Mecklenburg County! We know the numbers are similarly lopsided in Durham and Wake counties. We'd love to hear from operatives in Forsyth and Guilford, and New Hanover, about what the early trends look like there.
If the Republicans are in a hole after early voting ... well, YOU do the math.
We aren't prepared to divulge the exact numbers from Watauga County's early voting -- not who anybody voted for but the total numbers of Ds, Rs, and Us that voted -- but let's just say the Republicans go into Tuesday's turn-out with a decided deficit. How anyone can look at those numbers and talk about a Republican sweep in North Carolina is smoking some wacky-baccy.
Oh, Republican operatives and mouth-pieces are talking about the untold numbers of conservative Democrats who support Bush, and no doubt there are some. But we know of plenty of Republicans who are either (a) voting Bush and then straight Democrat or (b) voting straight Democrat, period. And those same Republican pooh-bahs are also ignoring the Unaffiliated vote, which in Watauga County in early voting totaled some 22 percent of all those who voted. Let's be conservative -- oh, let's! -- and assume that only 55 percent of those Unaffiliated citizens voted Democrat (most wise men and women think 60 percent of the Unaffiliated will go to the Dems, at least). With the Republicans mustering only 38 percent of the total in early voting in Watauga County, what other outcome do you imagine? It's IN the numbers, and the numbers are SO against them!
UPDATE: I missed this tidbit in my first perusal of the N&O today:
"[Democratic Party executive director Scott] Falmlen said numbers showed early last week that Democrats accounted for 50 percent of early voters, higher than the party's share of overall registration. Republicans accounted for about 37 percent of early voters at the same point, also slightly higher than their total registration."
FURTHER UPDATE: Thanks to Hayes for these figures, which were current through last Thursday (except where otherwise noted):
Orange County early voting:
D 15,000 (62.3%)
L 79 (0.3%)
R 4,288 (17.8%)
U 4,725 (19.6%)
This is 48.8% of the 2000 turnout in Orange County
Durham County early voting through last Wednesday:
D 22,791 (66.1%)
L 86 (0.3%)
R 6,689 (19.4%)
U 4,890 (14.2%)
This is 40.7% of the total 2000 turnout in Durham County
Guilford County early voting through Thursday:
D 29,808 (50.8%)
L 65 (0.1%)
R 22,240 (37.9%)
U 6,557 (11.1%)
This is 35.3% of the total 2000 turnout in Guilford County