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Politics
The Party Line is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s elections, debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

Expect A Whiter, Older, Democratic Electorate on Tuesday

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So what should we expect in Charlotte’s local elections Tuesday?

With the start of early voting for the upcoming election for Charlotte’s mayor, and many other local offices, the expectations are for a low voter turnout—most would be surprised by a turnout rate of 20 percent or higher.

Just two years ago, Charlotte saw a competitive election that pitted Republican Edwin Peacock (running again this year) against Democrat Patrick Cannon, who resigned from his office less than six months after winning with 53 percent of the vote.

In that election, only 18 percent of registered Charlotte voters cast ballots. In reviewing the different aspects of the ballots cast, half of the ballots came from registered Democrats within the city, while 30 percent were from registered Republicans and 20 percent from registered unaffiliated voters. 

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While Democrats matched their registration percentage, Republicans cast ballots at a higher percentage than their registration figures (in 2013, GOP voters were 24 percent of all Charlotte voters), while unaffiliated voters were down in comparison to their registration percentage (unaffiliated voters were 27 percent of all Charlotte voters).

We have seen North Carolinians use early voting in presidential elections to cast the majority of votes before Election Day. But in mid-term and odd-year elections, voters typically wait until Election Day to cast their ballots.

In 2013, only 20 percent of all ballots cast came early, while 79 percent of the 104,000 plus ballots came on Election Day, so we should not expect a large percentage of voters coming in before November 3.

Among 2013’s early voters, a significant majority (58 percent) came from registered Democrats, while a quarter were from registered Republicans and only 18 percent from registered unaffiliated voters.

Another aspect we should expect is that the voter pool will skew much older. In 2013, 82 percent of the voters casting ballots were over the age of 41; younger voters, those between 18 and 25, were only 2 percent of the ballots cast.

In comparison to 2013’s voter registration pool, 13 percent were 18-25 year olds, while 56 percent of registered voters were over 41 years old.

In terms of race, whites overperformed their 2013 registration percentage, casting 61 percent of the ballots while being 55 percent of the voter registration pool. Black voters were slightly lower than their registration percentage of 36 percent in casting ballots (35 percent), but all other racial categories—Asian, American Indian, multiracial, other, and unknown—were below their percentage of the voter pool (9 percent of eligible voters, but only 4 percent of ballots cast in 2013).

So, what should we expect Tuesday? The fact that both party’s candidates are white may have an impact on the racial demography of the electorate, while we should see a similar division of party registration as we did in 2013.

Thus, one could guess that an older, whiter, more Democratic electorate may be what we could expect.