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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

As early voting winds down in N.C., Democrats, Black voters are lagging compared to 2018

Erik (HASH) Hersman

An analysis of who has voted so far in North Carolina shows there are more Republicans and more white voters than in 2018, the previous mid-term election, when Democrats broke Republican supermajorities in the General Assembly.

Four years ago, 42% of all early votes cast were by Democrats.

Through Wednesday of this year, 39% of early votes cast were by Democrats, according to an analysis by Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer.

“It feels like, through the numbers at least, that Republicans are doing quite well,” Bitzer said. “The mystery card in this state is always going to be the unaffiliated vote.”

Early in-person voting ends Saturday. The numbers are through Wednesday.

There is another troubling sign for Democrats: In 2018, 22% of early voters were Black. This year, that’s fallen to 18%.

Because African Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, that leaves the party scrambling to make sure those voters get to the polls this weekend or Tuesday.

“Voters from urban cities like Charlotte, like Raleigh, have a very low percentage of the early vote compared to their voter registration numbers,” Bitzer said. “Something is happening where those voters are just not showing up.”

The early vote electorate is also old, with an average age of 60.

The headline race in North Carolina is for the open U.S. Senate seat now held by Richard Burr, who is retiring.

Democrat Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is trying to become the state’s first Black U.S. Senator. Polls have shown her either tied with Republican Rep. Ted Budd or only trailing by a few percentage points.

There are also races to determine which party will control the North Carolina Supreme Court. And Republicans are trying to reclaim supermajorities in the state House and Senate. That would allow them to override vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

The early voting population in North Carolina is similar to the results of NPR/PBS poll of voters. It found that enthusiasm among key Democratic constituencies is lagging.

The report found that after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, “Democrats closed the enthusiasm gap and were on par with GOP voters over the summer and into September.”

But the story noted that: “In the last few weeks, however, as more voters have begun tuning into the election — and with inflation persistently high — Republican enthusiasm has outpaced Democrats'. It's not so much that Democrats aren't gaining in their enthusiasm levels — they are — it's that Republicans have increased theirs by more in that time.”

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.