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Republicans Make Gains In Early Voting Turnout

Early voting lines at Charlotte's Veterans Park in 2012.
Jennifer Lang

Early voting in North Carolina wrapped up over the weekend. The turnout exceeded 2008’s by almost 100,000 votes, and a lot more Republicans cast early ballots this year.

In 2008, early voting gave then-Senator Obama a big lead in North Carolina that Senator John McCain nearly erased on election day.

This year, President Obama still has a comfortable lead. But about 52,000 fewer Democrats and about 65,000 more Republicans cast early ballots.

Catawba College Professor Michael Bitzer said that’s a big deal when you consider Mr. Obama won the state last time by a mere 14,000 votes.

"When you’re talking about a razor thin margin of victory for one side over the other, boy, a swing like that could certainly make the difference in terms of who might win here in North Carolina," Bitzer said.

Another difference in early voting this year was the turnout of independent voters. They registered and cast early ballots in much higher numbers.

Bitzer said that’s a continuing trend that could eventually bring the state closer to an even split between Democrats, Republicans and independents.

"These unaffiliated voters are probably going to make or break North Carolina politics very soon," he said.

So far this election, they’ve cast over a fifth of all ballots.