Dr. Michael Bitzer’s analysis of absentee ballot requests offers more evidence that something is different this year than in past years. Democrats and unaffiliated voters are far outpacing Republicans in requests. It’s another indication of Democratic enthusiasm and organization.
Among the ballot requests, unaffiliated voters outpacing Republicans is new. In 2014, Democrats outpaced Republicans by a small margin at this point in the cycle, but unaffiliated ballot requests were significantly lower. Now, unaffiliated requests are close to twice as high as they were in 2014 and not far behind Democrats. We don’t know whether those are left leaning or right leaning voters, but it would make sense they’re more Democratic given that Democrat requests are up and Republican ones are down.
In 2014, North Carolina had the most high-profile Senate contest in the country. Both sides were organized and motivating their respective base to vote. This year is a Blue Moon election and, despite all the attention on twitter and social media, turnout will likely be relatively low.
In 2006, the last Blue Moon election, less than 40% of the registered voters in North Carolina bothered to show up. Democrats were motivated by anger against the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s mishandling of Katrina. Scandals also racked GOP Congressional races and the middle broke for the Democrats in big numbers.The year was a big Democratic wave, giving them control of both the US House and Senate.
Those absentee ballot requests may be telling a similar story. Democrats are motivated to vote against Donald Trump and all he stands for. The middle is suspicious of the on-going scandals in the administration and the #MeToo movement has become increasingly partisan with women siding with Democrats. They make up 55% of the ballot requests.
In 2014, Republican absentee ballot requests increased substantially in the final few weeks. We’ll see if they do again this year. Right now, though, absentee ballots indicate enthusiasm is with the Democrats and in a Blue Moon year, that could determine the outcome of the election.