Republicans Essentially Sink to Third Party Status in North Carolina

On July 18, we reported that the number of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina was about to surpass the number of registered Republicans. It was just eight weeks ago, when Republicans outnumbered unaffiliated voters by 13,128 voter registrations. According to the latest voter registration statistics from the State Board of Elections, as of September 9, the number of unaffiliated voters now exceed the number of Republicans by 55 voters. There are 2,055,548 unaffiliated voters on North Carolina’s voter rolls compared to 2,055,493 registered Republicans.

The Trend

Since 2009, Democrats either lost voters or made only negligible gains each month, while Republicans can count on adding voters. It’s among the unaffiliated voting population where the voter registration explosion is occurring.

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While at first glance it seems, Republicans are the most affected by this strong surge of unaffiliated voter registration, North Carolina’s Democrats are the only segment of the voter registration rolls to have decreased since 2009. Democrat’s voter registration continues to lag significantly behind Republicans and especially unaffiliated voters. Currently there are 2,640,470 Democrats registered to vote in North Carolina. Since January 2009, Democrats have experienced a net loss of 229,368 registered voters. In 2009, Democrats made up 45.7 percent of the voter rolls, today they are at just 38.9 percent of the total voter registration.

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The unaffiliated ranks appear to have absorbed Democrats losses and more. Since January 2009, the unaffiliated bloc has seen a net gain of 652,823 voters and their share of the voter registration rolls have increased to 30.3 percent, up from 22.3 percent in 2009.

While yielding 2nd place in voter registration numbers to unaffiliated voters, Republicans continue to hold their own in voter registration. Republicans have seen a net gain of 50,344 voters since January 2009. At the same time their overall percentage share of registered voters in North Carolina has also declined. They now represent 30.3 percent of the entire voter registration rolls, down from 31.92 percent in 2009.

The unaffiliated voter registration trend that appears to have begun in 2009 shows no signs of ending. The chart below illustrates changes by party and unaffiliated voters in the four-year period after the 2008 and 2012 General Elections. Perhaps the most interesting take-away from the chart is the net loss of registered Democrats in the four years after the 2012.

Currently, there are eight counties where unaffiliated voters out-number both Republicans and Democrats, twenty-four counties where unaffiliated voters outnumber only Democrats and forty counties where they outnumber only Republicans.

Compare those numbers to early 2009 when unaffiliated voters out-numbered Democrats in nineteen counties and Republicans in only three counties. Nine years ago, there wasn’t a county in North Carolina where unaffiliated voters were the largest voting bloc.

Since February 4 (after most counties had performed required voter registration list maintenance tasks NCGS 163.82.14), Democrats have lost 3,829 registered voters, Republicans have gained 9,241, Libertarians have gained 1,468 voters and the unaffiliated ranks have a net gain of 47,099 registered voters.

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