The number of African Americans who participated in early voting is up 43.5 percent since 2010, a year of spectacular electoral gains for Republicans in North Carolina and across the nation. That compares to an increase of 16.6 percent among white voters.
Early voting is up among all groups in Guilford County, according to unofficial numbers released by the local board of elections, but more so among Democrats than Republicans, with the number of Democrats surging 32 percent from 23,245 and Republicans by 7 percent, from 15,898 to 17,126. The growth in early voting by women likewise outpaced the increase for men, with female voting increasing by 29 percent, compared to 23.7 percent among men.
If those trends carry through to today, the final day of balloting, then the numbers predict strong performance in the state’s third most populous county by Democrat Kay Hagan, who has placed a strong emphasis on women’s health issues in her campaign against Republican Thom Tillis for US Senate. Likewise, turnout among women and blacks could help Laura Fjeld in her contest with Republican Mark Walker for the 6th Congressional District, where Democrats hold the advantage in registration but the electorate has historically supported Republican candidates.
Those trends also shore up Democrat Kay Cashion’s hopes of securing the at-large seat on Guilford County Commission, and Democrat Lisa Tonkins-Johnson’s bid for clerk of superior court.
High turnout in early voting among blacks and Democrats also bodes well for Marcus Brandon’s bid for mayor of High Point. Although the contest is officially nonpartisan, the municipal election often reflects a coattail effect from the top of the ticket. As an African-American Democrat who has been on the ballot twice in High Point as a candidate for state House, Brandon stands to benefit from high turnout among black Democrats. Edward Squires, a black candidate for one of the two at-large seats on the ballot who has run twice before, also stands to benefit.
But an increase in early voting by independents — up 50 percent from 5,960 to 9,417 — along with
overall higher turnout adds a factor of unpredictability that could lead to election night surprises, particularly in High Point.