I don’t very often agree with the Civitas Institute and they probably don’t often agree with me. But their Carolina Transparency site is great. It offers a wealth of current and historical information about elected officials, districts, counties and voters. Civitas should be applauded for making so much information so easily available. For that, even I’ll give them a donation.
I’ve been aware of Carolina Transparency for quite awhile but have generally used it during election season to track early vote totals. Yesterday, though, I followed a link from twitter and stumbled on their voter registration figures. Their tool makes it possible to look at trends and compare data across years.
As of September 28, 2013, North Carolina had 6,470,529 registered voters. Of those, 43% were registerd Democrat, 31% Republican and 26% unaffiliated. Also, 71% are white, 22.5% are black and 6.6% are listed as other.
In the past year, the state has seen a net loss of about 8,000 registered voters. However, it’s not been balanced. White voters declined by 58,000 while black and other races increased by just over 50,000. In terms of registration, unaffiliateds were the big winners. Their numbers increased by 33,000 voters while both parties lost over 23,000 members each.
This trend has been going on for awhile. Voters have far less loyalty to parties than they have historically and the electorate is getting browner. Since 2010, Democrats have seen essentially no growth and Republican growth has been less than 1%. In contrast, the number of unaffiliated voters grew by 4% and almost three times as many black and “other” voters registered as whites.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, unaffiliated voters were generally considered likely Republican voters. That is now changed. An increasing number of black and “other” voters are obviously registering unaffiliated. According to exit polls, minorities, regardless of party, are voting for Democrats.
These numbers illustrate North Carolina Republicans’ self-defeating strategy of trying to suppress votes instead of winning them. The GOP argues that the voter suppression bill is protecting the integrity of elections, but African-Americans believe Republicans are trying to restrict their right to vote. The GOP can argue that their support for tougher immigration laws is meant to protect jobs, but latino and asian immigrants believe they enforce negative stereotypes.
If Republicans had been smart, they would have developed their policies and bills with input from minority and immigrant-led organizations and leaders. Instead, they look like the old white power structure imposing their will and consolidating their power. The GOP can argue that they are new face of government after 100 years of Democratic rule. But if you’re African-American or Latino, the new boss sure looks the same as the old boss.
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