© 2024 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Early voting in New Hanover County skews Republican for a largely uncontested Democratic primary

AFP via Getty Images

Republican early voting numbers outpace Democratic ballots — and blow 2020 numbers out of the water.

Less than 9% of registered voters in New Hanover County have turned out in early voting for this year’s primary, down from the last presidential election in 2020, when more than 11% of registered voters voted early. That presidential primary saw a total of 31% turnout in New Hanover County.

In 2020, many more Democrats turned out than Republicans, with 33,809 Democratic ballots cast and 18,650 Republican ballots cast. That was likely because the Republican presidential ticket was uncontested at the time.

This year’s primary looks likely to be something of a reversal, with a contested Republican presidential primary. Local elections are similar: no contested primary for the Democrats for school board, but a primary for the Republican candidates — and between former President Donald Trump and six other GOP candidates — all of whom have dropped out, with the exception of Nikki Haley.

There are a few Democratic primary races — and a movement to protest-vote against Joe Biden's support of Israel by selecting "no preference."

In the Democratic primary for Governor, Josh Stein is widely expected to win. In the race for Stein's old job, attorney general, odds slightly favor Jeff Jackson, a one-term Congressman who was gerrymandered out of his district; one of Jackson's Democratic opponents, Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, has been backed by a Super PAC linked to GOP interests, presumably to improve the chances of Republican candidate Dan Bishop in the general election.

There's also the potentially confusing appearance of Mark H. Robinson — "no, not that one," as WRAL put it — on the Democratic ballot for Lt. Governor, a position currently held by Republican Mark Robinson (no "H."). The GOP side of the race is crowded, with eleven candidates running for the Lt. Governor spot — despite the relative lack of power or prestige in the role.

The GOP's Robinson is duking it out with his main contender, State Treasurer Dale Folwell, for governor — a race that could prove a serious draw to the polls for conservative voters.

Early voting numbers this year show Republicans turning out in higher numbers than Democrats and much higher than in 2020. That year, Democratic early voting numbers were nearly double that of Republicans, but this year, Republican ballots are already higher than Democratic ballots. But this year, 8,875 Republican ballots were cast in early voting, to Democrats' 7,160. Republicans cast fewer than 5,000 early ballots in 2020, for comparison.

The gap in turnout between the parties is likely to increase on primary Election day, when GOP voters tend to show up in force, as opposed to Democrats, who tend to vote in larger numbers during early voting.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.
Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.