Sunday, October 24, 2010

Early Voting in WNC Update III: Through Oct. 23rd

Before moving into the update of the partisanship information, a reporter this week asked me what the demographic profile of early voters looks like in the 11th Congressional District thus far. It appears that the early voters in the 11th Congressional District are overwhelmingly white (96%), older (average age=62) and fairly split in terms of gender (51% female). The age and race trends are similar to what we have seen in the state as a whole, but interestingly, women seem to be turning out in much larger numbers in WNC than they are in the rest of the state (or at least than they were in the first few days of early voting.

As for partisanship, it looks like Republicans are still turnout out a larger proportion of their voters than are Democrats. Interestingly, however, Democrats still have the raw numbers advantage as they have so many more registered voters in the district to begin with.

This picture is interesting, but the real fun stuff happens when comparing what's going on in different counties. The graph below shows the proportion of registered voters in a county who are Republicans on the X (horizontal) axis, and the proportion of early voters in the county who are Republicans on the Y (vertical) axis. The line is what statisticians call a "line of best fit"--essentially when a county falls above the line, the Republicans are doing better than you'd expect from the proportion of Republicans in the county and the counties that fall below the line are experiencing less Republican turnout than you'd expect. For example, Republicans are doing a good bit better in Polk, Henderson, and Cherokee Counties than you would expect from the percent of voters in the County who are registered Republicans. Similarly, they are underrepresented in Graham County and slightly underrepresented in Madison, Jackson and Haywood. Looks like Democrats are gaining in Clay, Transylvania and Macon as the difference this week is different than it was just a few days before. Those who are more statistically inclined may be interested to know that the R-squared in the graph below is .74— lower than the .82 reported just a few days before and even lower than the .88 from a few days before that. Essentially this means the % of early voters in a county who are Republicans is increasingly deviating from the % of registered voters in a county who are Republican.

So--have the turnout numbers risen dramatically in the last few days? Did Bill Clinton's appearance in Asheville mobilize the Democratic base? The answers: sort of and no. The graph below shows the cumulative turnout by day and I don't see any huge spike (Democratic or Republican) after the former President's visit. Hopefully he at least got to eat at 12 bones while he was here to make his trip worth it.

Here's the full report if you're interested in the specific numbers by county:

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