• 66°

Where do new voters come from?

“Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”

So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.
So what? What difference does it make to us that almost half of North Carolina voters were born somewhere else?
To begin to show the importance of such a large number of non-North Carolina natives participating in the state’s election process, DataNet gives us a short history lesson: “One hundred years ago, when North Carolina had a population of about 2.5 million people, more than nine out of 10 residents were native Tar Heels.”
That percentage stayed low, increasing only gradually, 10 percent in 1930, 13 percent in 1950, 16 percent in 1960, then marked increases to 22 percent in 1970, 30 percent in 1990, and 37 percent in 2000.
“How will this change North Carolina’s electorate?” asks DataNet contributor Rebecca Tippett of Carolina Demography, and then she answers, “In-migrants to North Carolina are almost twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree as native-born residents. They are more diverse than native-born North Carolinians. And, because many are coming for work and school, in-migrants tend to move to cities more than rural areas.”
Accelerating changes in North Carolina’s voter composition led DataNet to focus on developments between 2004 and 2012. During this period the five urbanized and fast-growing counties (Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Buncombe and Cumberland) gained the highest number of in-migrant voters.
In the same period the states sending the most new voters to North Carolina were Florida, Virginia, New York, South Carolina and Georgia.
Will these new voters help Democrats or Republicans more?
DataNet cannot say for sure because it cannot tie party registration figures to specific in-migrant voters. But it shares some interesting general trends.
First, in-migrant voters have contributed to a “surge in new voters deciding not to affiliate with a major political party. Mecklenburg and Wake, along with four other counties, had gains in unaffiliated voters of 100 percent or higher.
“Statewide, Democratic registration rose by 20 percent, Republican by 18.5 percent and unaffiliated by 93 percent.
“Growth in Democratic voter registration out-paced Republican registration growth in Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Buncombe, Cumberland, Guilford, Orange and Forsyth. Republican registration increased more than Democratic registration in Onslow, Union, Cabarrus and Brunswick. Republican registration dropped in Durham. While the Democratic gains came mostly in metropolitan counties, Republicans saw registration gains in less populous counties, such as Hoke, Camden, Pender, Gates, Currituck, Granville, Jones and Tyrrell.”
The increases in Democratic registration in the growing urban counties seems to boost Democratic long-term prospects in the state despite growing Republican strength in the suburban and rural counties.
But the actual voting results during the period send confusing signals. The strong Democratic showings in the 2008 and 2012 presidential races were balanced by decisive Republican victories in the 2010 and 2012 legislative and 2012 gubernatorial elections.
What the DataNet report shows, I think, is that North Carolina is up for grabs. The new North Carolina voters do not belong to either party. Their commitment will depend, not on where they came from, but on which party and which candidates can persuade them their votes can really make a difference.
D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch” on UNC-TV.

Comments

Comments closed.

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12