Exploring Trends in Voter Registration

by | Jul 7, 2014 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Democrats, Demographic Trends, Features, NC Politics, NCGOP, News | 13 comments

This post is an analysis of changes in partisan registration in the state of North Carolina since the election of 2012. Data comes from the North Carolina Board of Elections.

Overall, since November 6th, 2012, Democrats have lost 117,613 of their voters. Republicans lost 54,564 voters. These losses came through voters switching parties, moving away, dying, or their voter registration becoming otherwise inactive.

On the other hand, there was a 42,986 gain in persons registering as Unaffiliated. This group is continuing to eat away at both the Democratic and the Republican numbers. That is not to say that these new voters are necessarily true independents and that both parties will have to change to accommodate their interests. It simply means that more voters than ever no longer particularly care about identifying as one way or the other.

All 100 counties showed a net loss in registered Democrats. The county with the biggest drop in registered Democrats was Guilford, where 8,636 Democrats dropped off the voter rolls. Unsurprisingly, big urban counties had the biggest losses. In terms of percentage change, Currituck County was most severe for Democrats. There was an over 9% loss in registered Democrats in that northeastern coastal county, so it would be accurate to say that registered Democrats have been nearly decimated since 2012. Democrats dropped off everywhere, but their smallest decline came in Union County, where population growth has almost allowed the party to break even there.

Republicans dropped off in 86 counties, but 14 counties saw gains. The biggest gains were in Johnston, Union, Brunswick, Pender, and Harnett – all fast-growing exurban or coastal counties. The biggest losses were in the urban counties, but this should be expected, with Mecklenburg having an 8,479 drop in Republicans.

In terms of percentage, the biggest gain for Republicans came in small Jones County, where registered Republicans grew by 3.39%. Tiny Tyrrell County was next. And the biggest percentage loss was in Halifax County (Roanoke Rapids), where 13% of Republicans dropped off the voter rolls. Next was Orange and Jackson, where transient college-age Republicans probably moved away.

The above analysis is skewed by population growth. Another way to analyze how the parties are faring in each county is to look at the differential in the percentage gains for each county. For example, in Alamance County, Democrats dropped off by 5.5%. Republicans dropped by 3.3%. The GOP in Alamance County, therefore, has fared better than their Democratic counterparts (assuming that the Democratic drop-off was from voters who actually voted for Democrats, a big assumption).

Looking at it this way, the ‘best’ county for Republicans since 2012 has been Currituck, which is almost entirely attributable to the huge dropoff in Democrats (probably Blue Dog types). The best favorable result for Democrats is in Halifax County, where Republicans lost 13% of their voters but Democrats have lost only 2% of theirs.

The following map is a visual illustration of the data. It could be an indicator of which way the counties of North Carolina are trending. The map is of the difference in the rate of change in each party, for each county. For those who don’t understand the methodology, the more red = the better for Republicans, the more blue = the better for Democrats:

nc county map voter registration

The darkest red counties are counties that are definitely trending toward the Republicans. The lighter red are trending Republican more than the state average. The pink counties are where the GOP is losing less voters than the Democrats, but we have to keep in mind that North Carolina is a historically Democratic state, so this is to be expected. The pink counties are where Democrats are keeping things closer than the state average. I would say even though they’re pink on this map, in actuality they’re trending towards the Democrats.

The counties in blue are almost definitely trending towards the Democrats. They include urban counties like Buncombe, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Orange, and Durham, but the African American Northeast is also getting better for them, and so are several counties in the Mountains. In North Carolina, it’s expected that Republicans should have an easier time holding on to their voters than Democrats, so when the opposite is the case, you know something is happening.

That’s it for today. Later on I’ll look at changes by registration with other variables, including race. It should offer a somewhat different picture of the changing electorate than the one conveyed in this post, with implications for the future of North Carolina politics.


  1. Pat Poston

    Please find out and tell us how many voters were dropped from the “active” category as a result of the voter roll purge conducted a few months ago as required by NVRA. I understand these dropped voters can become “active” again simply by showing up to vote in their precincts.

    • Ray

      I think you misunderstand. The chart I linked to is of all registered including INactives. Actives don’t get systematically purged, only Inactives do. When you’re purged, you have to re-register if you want to vote again. If you just show up in your precinct, you’ll be turned away for not being on the rolls.

  2. Ray

    Demopublican share of NC electorate: only 73%.
    Demopublican share of state-level NC elective offices: fully 100%.
    Question: what were the percentages of black voters vs. non-black office holders half a century ago, when the courts started saying that such number comparisons on their face indicate rigged elections?

  3. Thomas in Jacksonville

    The state of NC is going to vote Republican. The citizens see that the evil one world government anti-American leadership that has corrupted what was once a party that believed that our differences stopped at the shore, the democrats, and how they have actively worked to destroy the Constitution of the United States and how they corrupted the state government with waste and bloating of size and they do not want any part of it. The democrat voters are those that do no research on what is happening, or those that are getting paid to vote democrat (welfare and other government handouts) or those that do want to destroy this country. The number of unaffiliated are growing because of the weakness in the GOP leadership, but given the choice, they will vote against the democrats.

  4. John J. Trotta

    The reason the democrats are losing so many voters is that they are only counting valid registrations. Once you add in the usual democrat voter fraud, their numbers will rebound.

  5. Unaffiliated Voter

    SO SO glad the numbers are being TRUED !!! Now, watch for the Mississippi Senate race to be overturned shortly !!!

  6. Ray

    I track NC voter registration trends closely. Here are the highlights of my current monthly analysis. I look at SHARES, not just raw numbers.

    Total number of NC registered voters, constantly increasing since 2014MAY (when it was 6.516M), is up to 6.525M, its highest since 2013JAN (6.6M).

    Demobrat share, constantly decreasing since 2013JAN (43.145%), is down to yet another new record low, 42.19%.

    Repugnican share, constantly decreasing since 2013APR (30.825%), is down to yet another new record low, 30.616%.

    The D-R Difference, constantly decreasing since 2013FEB (12.32), is down to 11.57, its lowest since 2008APR (11.2).

    Libertarian share, constantly increasing since 2012JUL (0.219%), is up to yet another new record high, 0.366%.  LIBERTARIAN SHARE HAS CONSTANTLY INCREASED FOR TWO YEARS, AND IN 72 OF THE LAST 73 MONTHS.  EVERY 274th NC REGISTERED VOTER IS LIBERTARIAN.

    Unaffiliated share, constantly increasing since 2013JAN (25.72%), is up to yet another new record high, 26.83%.  THERE ARE 1.75 MILLION UNAFFILIATEDS.

    Non-Demopublican share, constantly increasing since 2009FEB (22.36%), is up to yet another new record high, 27.19%.

    73 calendar months have ended since LPNC re-recognition in mid-June 2008.  2014JUN ranked 65th among them by rise in raw # of L’s (106), and 67th by rise in L share (0.0015).  That L share increase was about 29% of the average in the prior 72 months.  Graph of monthly L share increase:



    In four of those counties, Unaffiliateds outnumber Repubs AND outnumber Dems:  CURRITUCK, DARE, TRANSYLVANIA, WATAUGA.



    • Ray

      Following up my own post to address the author’s angle more. I have now done my own analysis of the differences from the registration numbers of 2012NOV06 to those of 2014JUL05.

      EVERY county’s Demobrat share decreased. ALL 100 COUNTIES have a smaller D portion of their registration pie now than at the November 2012 election. The one that came closest to NOT decreasing was Jackson, which decreased from 40.63% D to 40.57% D.

      The DEMOPUBLICAN share in each county, i.e. the combined D + R share, also DECREASED in ALL 100 COUNTIES.


      Repugnican share decreased in TWO-THIRDS of the counties. Only 32 counties’ Repugnican share increased. JONES’s increase of just 1.0 percentage point, from 21% R to 22% R, was the GREATEST R-share increase.

      LIBERTARIAN share increased in 99 COUNTIES – all except HYDE, which decreased from 0.14% L to 0.11% L.

      “For those who don’t understand the methodology, the more red = the better for Republicans, the more blue = the better for Democrats. [….] The darkest red counties are counties that are definitely trending toward the Republicans. [….] The counties in blue are almost definitely trending towards the Democrats.”
      These statements of yours only make sense for sufficiently sneaky definitions of “better” and “trending!”
      By SHARES, i.e. their percentage of their county voter rolls, BOTH wings of the demopublican party are BLEEDING ALL OVER THE PLACE.

  7. Frank McGuirt

    I continue to hear Dems here in Union say they changed to unaffiliated so they can vote in Republican primaries as we seldom have any local Democratic candidates. I guess they think they can help the lesser of the R evils. But why bother? A Republican is a Republican, they’re just going to hurt the working class in the end. They tilt the playing field to favor the wealthy and corporations yet they clothe it all in Christianity. Aa a Christian myself I’m offended by that.

    • Troy

      Right you are sir!

    • Unaffiliated Voter

      so tired of your disparaging remarks, mcsquirt … you LIKE wasting TAX PAYER MONEY and you always HAVE …you’re no better than pryor gibson…

      • Troy

        Next time you have a thought, why don’t you just let it go? But no, once again you demonstrate your ideology by not being able to see beyond the tip of your own nose.

        I remember him as Sheriff McGuirt. If for no other reason, he deserves dignity and respect. The fact that he understands how to keep people out of jail goes a lot further than building more of them.

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