As of the end of early voting on Saturday ... 10,560 voters total.
D: 4,193 (40%)
R: 4,043 (38%)
U: 2,324 (22%)
Here's a link for reading about turn-out in Buncombe County (undifferentiated by party, but we expect the pattern that emerged state-wide holds true there also).
Meanwhile, Republican operatives are whistling Dixie. This very a.m., a very nice young man working for Dick Burr told us confidently on the phone that early voting trends were definitely in their favor. They must be reading numbers from some fairly obscure counties ... like, maybe in Utah?
Does Bowles make it? Dunno. He's been a poor candidate overall, doing what he could to diss the Democratic base. But if Kerry/Edwards pull N.C., they haul Bowles' sorry butt with them. Young people and first-time voters hold the power state-wide. If they turn out, it could be a sweep. If they don't turn out, it could be the New Ice Age. With democracy itself the great flash-frozen victim.
UPDATE: These figures from Forsyth County, at the close of early voting on Saturday (again, thanks to Hayes):
Dems 14,517 (49%)
Repubs 11,647 (39%)
Unas 3,617 (12%)
Libs 32 (0%)
FURTHER UPDATE: This just in from Mecklenburg County ...
Of the 105,000 people who voted early or absentee in Mecklenburg, 49,000 were Dems and 38,000 were Reps. Of the Dems, one-third -- about 16,000 -- were voters who vote less than 50% of the time. (Ditto our great thanks to Hayes for passing these numbers along.)