The Biden campaign feels pretty confident about North Carolina, telling reporters today that by their calculations, Donald Trump will need to win 62 percent of the in-person votes cast in the Tar Heel State today.
I’m not sure that the early vote should be all that reassuring to Democrats, as the share of the early vote that is registered Democrats is down compared to four and eight years ago. In 2012, the early vote split 47.5 percent registered Democrats, 31.5 percent registered Republicans, and 20.8 percent no party affiliation. That year, Mitt Romney won the state, 50.3 percent to 48.3 percent.
In 2016, the early vote split 41.7 percent registered Democrats, 31.9 percent registered Republicans, and 26.1 percent no party affiliation. That year, Trump won the state, 49.8 percent to 46.1 percent.
This year, the early vote split 37.4 percent registered Democrats, 31.5 percent registered Republicans, and 30.3 percent no party affiliation. For the GOP, their share of the early vote is remaining steady, while the share that is registered Democrats keeps sliding. This is a year where the early vote is bigger than ever, and the Republicans did better than the past two cycles where their candidate narrowly won the state.
Also note that the share of the North Carolina early vote that is African American is down a bit. It was 27.4 percent in 2012, 22.3 percent in 2016, and 19.4 percent this year.
Those early vote trends do not guarantee a Trump win; the president may be losing among independents at a rate that offsets the better indicators. The Insider Advantage survey has Trump and Biden splitting independents; the CNN poll had Biden leading among independents 51 percent to 38 percent; the NBC Marist poll had Biden leading among independents, 52 percent to 43 percent, and the New York Times/Siena poll has Biden leading among independents, 51 percent to 36 percent.