Seeing as how voter registration has been in the news a lot lately, I thought now might be a good time to conduct an updated analysis on registration trends in the state. This will be the first in a series of posts.
The biggest difficulty lies in determining a starting point for the analysis. In the end, I decided to go with analysis of data over the past four years. That’s a long enough time to identify significant trends but not so long that it uncovers trends that are outdated and no longer relevant.
We’ll start with an analysis of changes in total voter registration. Four years ago (7/06/13) the state had 6,448,237 registered voters. Now we have 6,766,094 – an increase of over 300,000 voters, or nearly 5%.
Here’s the rate of increase (or decrease) of total number of registered voters in visual form:
This is a map that many state observers are used to – strong growth in the Triangle and Charlotte metros and along the coast, with the rest of the state struggling to keep up. Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between growth in registered voters and population growth. However, the population numbers are actually more dire for the parts of the state than this map might depict, as some counties (particularly in the west) saw registration growth despite population decline. We might be able to attribute this to the Trump effect.
The county with the largest voter registration growth is Brunswick in the southeast, also the fastest growing county in the state. The county with the largest drop was Mitchell, even though the population estimates don’t depict such a negative forecast. It’s possible aggressive purging of voter rolls could be at play here. Such actions are largely at the discretion of county boards of elections.
In terms of raw numbers, Wake was the clear winner with a gain of 60,322 registered voters. The biggest loser was Craven (New Bern). Again, not sure what’s going on there.
In the next post, we’ll take a look at trends in partisan registration and what they mean for the future of North Carolina politics.