N.C. black voter registration has outpaced white since 2008

N.C. black voter registration has outpaced white since 2008
June 09
05:50 2016



When it comes to presidential elections, 2008 remains a banner year, especially to black Democrats who went to the polls and helped drive Barack Obama’s historic victory to the presidency. Obama won the Tar Heel state by only 1,400 ballots over Republican Sen. John McCain, thanks to early and provisional voting, and there’s no question that strong African-American turnout was key.

It was just as strong, if not more so in 2012, even though President Obama lost North Carolina to Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Now that the president is stepping down and expected to pass the mantle to reported presumptive nominee former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, with the help of Democratic super-delegate support, is expected to officially become the party’s nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, will North Carolina’s black voters turn out in large numbers for a third presidential election in a row?

A large part of that answer, of course, lies in whatever turnout effort is mounted. But thanks to Democracy North Carolina, a nonprofit, non-partisan voter education organization, new numbers show black voter registration from 2008 through this election year statewide is dramatically up.

And they’re not all necessarily Democrats.

At special request, Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC, provided a demographic breakdown of N.C. voter registrations as of June 2008, June 2012 and now, June 2016. The breakdown, from the North Carolina Board of Elections Office, is county-by-county, and the chart shows to what extent the percentage every four years changed among North Carolina’s racial and political demos.

Hall notes that there are several important observations that can be made from the new data. “Voters are increasingly not indicating their race or party affiliation when they register,” says Hall. Thus, unaffiliated voters, by far, are the largest share of newly registered voters with unaffiliated voters increasing by 53% from 2008 to 2016, or 655,000 of the total 774,000 during that period.

Democrats increased only by 1 percent, and Republicans by 4 percent. The total number of registered voters increased by 13 percent between June 2008 and June 2016, with self-identified black voters increasing by 22 percent, Hispanics by a whopping 58 percent.

The numbers show, according to Hall, white voter registration in North Carolina, during this same period, only increasing 6 percent.

“In raw numbers, the state added more black voters than white voters from June 2008 to June 2016 –265,800 compared to 253,300,” says Hall. “There were an additional 52,800 Latino voters. There were more than 100,000 additional voters who did not mark a racial classification when they registered. Over 300,000 (about 4.5 percent) of all voters registered left blank or marked “other” when given the choice  (of ethnicity to choose from.)”

Hall continued that the counties with the biggest voter registration gains were urban, suburban, coastal resort counties and those with military bases nearby.

The numbers show that overall Wake had a 23 percent increase in voters, compared to Mecklenburg County’s increase of 16 percent, and New Hanover’s 20 percent.

In Forsyth County where the number of registered voters has gone from 204,443 in 2008 to currently 242,208 – an 18 percent jump – black voter registration ballooned 28 percent. White voters only increased by 9 percent. Unaffiliated voters there also exploded 64 percent, or by over 25,000, Democrats by 10 percent, and Republicans by only three percent.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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