The Party Line
Fri May 11, 2012
Dissecting The Amendment One Vote
The dust has partially settled on the May 8th primary, and here are some early thoughts on the results:
While the statewide average voter turnout was 34.3 percent, over half of the counties have turnout above that average (56). But, in looking at those 56 counties, only four of the top 10 counties with the largest voter registration were above the state-wide voter turnout average: Wake (Raleigh), Buncombe (Asheville), Durham (Durham), and Guilford (Greensboro).
The top county — with 50 percent registered voter turnout — was Mitchell County. Camden County was the bottom county, with 19.6 percent voter turnout. Mecklenburg, the county with the most registered voters, was 91 out of the 100 counties in terms of voter turnout.
The Constitutional Amendment
With no real surprise that the amendment passed, a couple of things did catch my eye about the vote. First, most of the polls had the amendment passing, but with an average in the high 50s. Most observers were surprised by the 61 percent approval of the amendment, with a significant support coming from rural counties.
In looking at the top 10 counties that gave the amendment the greatest percentage of support (the average of these 10 counties was 84 percent for the amendment), voter turnout averaged 40.8 percent. But these counties only delivered 98,250 votes out of the 1.3 million votes for the amendment (or 7.5 percent of the total votes for the amendment).
The top 10 counties that either voted against the amendment (8) or tied 50-50 (2) had voter turnout of 36 percent. Unlike the top 10 voting for the amendment, these 10 counties provided 55 percent of all the votes cast against the amendment from across the state.
I’ll be looking at more breakdowns of voting with the amendment in the future, but one other observation is that six of the eight counties that voted against the amendment have institutions of higher education in them. Perhaps a sign of the generation gap on the issue of marriage between the young and old?
While he didn’t face a contested primary, President Obama only received 79.2 percent of all the votes cast in the Democratic contest, with “no preference” receiving 20.8 percent of the vote.
What this may mean is if Obama wants to repeat his 2008 general campaign, it appears that he may have some selling to do with that 20 percent of Democrats who didn’t support him. What we know from exit polls is that Democrats say they vote Democratic in general elections 90 percent of the time, both national and here in the state.
It looks like the base of the Democratic Party hasn’t truly solidified around the president yet, and he may have some work to do to bring these party supporters home. But he appears not to have as big of a job as his presumptive Republican rival.
Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party. But on Tuesday, Romney received only two-thirds of all the votes cast in the Republican primary contest. Candidates who had dropped out — Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich — but whose names were still on the ballot, along with Paul and “no preference,” managed to get 33 percent of the vote.
While he only made one campaign swing through the state before the primary election day, if Romney intends to win the White House this November, he has got to have North Carolina in his column. Using the primary as a chance to introduce himself to North Carolina voters was a missed opportunity — and with his visit to Charlotte three days after his victory at the polls, Romney may have some more “selling” to do to the base of his party.
I’ll be looking more in-depth at these contests and more races, like the 8th and 9th GOP congressional races, in future entries, but the main take-away from North Carolina’s primary continues a theme that I’ve been repeating to myself — the only prediction to make this year is that it will be unpredictable (witness Obama’s declaration of his personal support for gay marriage after the N.C. vote against gay marriage for just one example, but more on that later as well).
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