Depending how you look at the numbers, Democrats are again enjoying a huge advantage in early voting in North Carolina that could spell another victory – or Republicans are closing the narrow gap that cost them in 2008, and may have reason to believe momentum is on their side.
Top-level numbers from mail absentee and in-person early voting tell a story that favors Democrats: 48.4 percent of the 1,271,453 ballots cast so far were by registered Democrats, 32.1 by Republicans and the rest by unaffiliated voters.
That adds up to a blue-colored lead of 207,222 votes.
"A lot of our key constituencies are showing up strong," said Walton Robinsion, the state Democratic Party spokesman, pointing specifically to a spike in turnout by African-American and young voters as an example. "We're ahead. It's as simple as that."
But maybe it's not so simple.
Republicans have a net advantage of 42,097 votes over Democrats compared to the first eight days of early voting in 2008.
Rachel Adams, a spokeswoman for Mitt Romney, points out that would more than erase the 14,177-vote victory by President Barack Obama last time around.
Adams points to another trend from 2008 as a reason N.C. should turn red – Democrats steadily dropped off during the early voting period, while Republicans gained steam; the trends so far have been relatively similar to last time.
Graphic provided by the Republican North Carolina Victory 2012
"The math just isn’t adding up for Democrats," Adams said. "Momentum is clearly on the Republican side."
Robinson said that's wishful thinking.
"They're clearly spinning like tops, and that's because we're ahead," he said. "They've finally woken up and realized you have to run a field operation, but they're still way behind us."
Both sides are kicking the campaigns into high gear with surrogates criss-crossing the state in an effort to remind their respective supporters that they can vote early through Nov. 3, or on Election Day.