Monday, October 18, 2010

Early Voting in WNC as of October 18th

Many of us are curious about what's going to happen in the November elections. Unfortunately the only real data we have are polling data and indications about who's voting early (but hopefully not often). Nationally, there are a lot of good sites that calculate early voting numbers by state. Locally, however, there are no such resources. The NC Board of Elections has the individual level data available for download (down to the individual voter), but it takes some know-how and a considerable amount of time to download, analyze and make sense of these data.

To satisfy my own curiosity and to contribute to our knowledge of politics in WNC, every few days between now and the election, I plan to download and analyze early voting data for each county in the 11th Congressional District on this site. Although I also have data by age and race (and I’ll be happy to make those available), this analysis only shows the percent of early voters by Party Identification. It’s important to remember that this does not tell us who someone is voting for—A Republican may choose to for a Democrat and vice-versa—but it does give us some indication of who’s winning the mobilization game in Western North Carolina. The data below include data from October 17th.

In general, the data don’t show that either party has a large advantage this early, although it does look slightly better for Republicans than Democrats.

The figure above shows that Republicans are enjoying a slight advantage in early voting. Republicans make up a slightly larger percent of the early voters than they do of the registered voters in Western North Carolina. This is not terribly unusual for early voting. It is also not unusual to see that unaffiliated voters are less well-represented in early voting than they are in the electorate.

The following figure shows that in general, counties with more registered Republicans in the county are seeing higher turnout among Republicans thus far. The interesting cases are the ones way off the line. For example, Republicans are doing a good bit better in Henderson County than you would expect from the percent of voters in the County who are registered Republicans. Similarly, they are slightly underrepresented in Graham County. For those who are more statistically inclined, the R-squared for this figure is about .88.

If you'd like to see the exact numbers by county, please check out the brief report here

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