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GOP, blacks, and women led November NC turnout

North Carolina Republicans turned out a slightly higher rate than did Democrats in the November election, according to a new survey of turnout figures.

The Republicans turned out 73 percent, while Democrats turned out at 70 percent, according to Democracy North Carolina, a Durham-based election reform group.

The two groups with the most enthusiasm were African-American women and white Republicans who both voted at a 74 percent, well ahead of the 68 percent rate.

“The presidential election was a polarizing, emotional experience for core supporters of both major candidates,” Bob Hall, the group's executive director. “Candidates, parties and interest groups invested in mobilizing voters and helped them understand that their vote was important for themselves and for society.''

State elections chief: Runoff election turnout may reach low point

The turnout for Tuesday’s primary runoff is on pace to be the lowest in history and will almost certainly not top 3 percent, said Gary Bartlett, the state’s elections chief. Bartlett had hoped for about a 5 percent turnout.

Just six counties – mostly those affected by Congressional races near Charlotte – are reporting better than a 3 percent turnout. Only 72 people had voted in Hyde County as of early afternoon, 148 in Clay and 67 in Columbus.

That many people “would show up in the first 20 minutes of a presidential election,” Bartlett said, adding that just one-third of votes are usually cast after 2 p.m. “What’s lacking is a top of the ticket like a gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race,” Bartlett said. “It’s really sad to see the turnout being what it is.”

Bartlett said the runoff election will cost about $6 million to 8 million.

In low-turnout runoff election, candidates know every vote counts

A low-interest, mid-summer runoff election forced candidates for the state’s highest posts to scrounge for votes Tuesday like they were searching for loose change in the couch.

Tony Gurley, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, found a steady trickle of voters at Lead Mine Elementary School in Raleigh. He stood in the heat for an hour to shake hands with less than a dozen voters.

A county poll worker said it was the most active voting spot in Wake County with about 60 votes registered at 10 a.m. “That’s why I’m here,” said Gurley, sweating in a white dress shirt and red striped tie. Read more from the polls today.

State Republicans outvoted Democrats

Registered Republicans voted at higher rates than Democrats in dozens of counties this year, according to an analysis by Democracy North Carolina.

The turnout rate for registered Republicans was 50 percent statewide, the elections watchdog group reported, while the rate for Democrats was 44 percent. Thirty-three percent of unaffiliated voters cast ballots. Turnout overall was 44 percent.

"We're highlighting the differences to help understand what happened in 2010, but the numbers show that nobody can be proud of the voter participation rate for their party or sub-group," Bob Hall, Democracy North Carolina executive director said in a statement.

In 2006 and 2008, registered Democrats and Republicans voted at about the same rates.

This year, Republicans ages 66 and older outvoted their Democratic counterparts. And older voters cast ballots at a much higher rate than voters 18 to 25 years old - 60 percent vs. 18 percent.

Compared to the last mid-term election in 2006, black voter participation increased more than for whites. Black voter turnout increased from 29 percent to 40 percent, while turnout among white voters increased from 39 percent to 46 percent.

Obama and the black turnout question

How much will Barack Obama boost black turnout?

That question lies at the heart of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's campaign to win North Carolina's electoral votes.

At a campaign rally in August, Obama said that he could boost turnout among black voters by 25 to 30 percent — enough, he argued, to put states like North Carolina in play. 

"I guarantee you African-American turnout, if I'm the nominee, goes up 30 percent around the country, minimum," he said, according to USA Today. "Young people's percentage of the vote goes up 25-30 percent. So we're in a position to put states in play that haven't been in play since LBJ." 

That sounds like a tall order, but it's happened before. In the 2000 election, black turnout went up by more than 100,000, or about 25 percent, from the 1996 campaign. And in 2004, black turnout went up again by 154,000, or about 30 percent. 

To make a similar jump this year, black turnout would have to go up by 166,000 to 200,000 voters. 

After the jump, the raw numbers.

The most-viewed posts of Primary '08

The Democratic presidential race drew a lot of reader interest.

Posts on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton drew the most readers on the Under the Dome blog since April 1, thanks in part to links from Talking Points Memo, The Daily Kos, Andrew Sullivan, Facing South, Isaac Hunter's Tavern, From Fay to Z and Sister Toldjah.

Counting down the Five Most Viewed of Primary '08:

5. Turnout so far: 8 percent: Elections board reports receiving nearly a half million ballots, for 8.4 percent turnout, through absentee and early voting.

4. Elections board hunting robocaller: State Board of Elections looking for people responsible for confusing robocalls about voter registration.

3. More illegal robocalls in Durham? Former N&O reporter receives illegal robocall about mail-in ballots after the state's deadline has passed.

2. Price, Watt to endorse Obama: U.S. Reps. David Price and Mel Watt, both superdelegates, announce their support for Obama in mid-April.

1. Council backs Obama: Cumberland County Commissioner Jeanette Council, a superdelegate, announces her support for Obama on the eve of the May 6 primary.

Primary turnout

— Percentage of North Carolina voters who turned out on the May 6 primary, beating a previous record of 31 percent set in 1988.

Five reasons Perdue beat Moore

Why did Beverly Perdue beat Richard Moore?

In a primary election as unusual as this one, it's dangerous to get too confident when drawing conclusions, but here are a few educated guesses about how Perdue won the primary today.

She was the frontrunner. As a two-term lieutenant governor and longtime legislator with a bevy of endorsements from big groups, Perdue was the favorite from the start and Moore never managed to knock her down.

She had good issues. Perdue had a good portfolio on both soft issues (health care, education) and hard issues (the military). Moore's issues were more national (climate change, Wall Street reform) and wonky (the line-item veto, transportation reform).

She benefited from high turnout. Perdue had strong support among women and black voters, two groups that were energized by the unusually competitive presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

She went positive. Perdue and Moore both ran nasty campaigns through the fall, but Perdue went positive just as most voters started paying attention. That endeared her to Obama's "change" voters, won points for gutsiness and made Moore's attacks look bad.

She had fewer enemies. Moore manages the state pension fund? State employees sue him. Moore crusades on Wall Street? Forbes magazine attacks his campaign funding. Moore makes his case on education? The N.C. Association of Educators attacks him.

Moore never succeeded in opening any daylight between his campaign and Perdue's. When he endorsed Obama, she endorsed Obama. When he called for raising the minimum wage, opposed coal plants at Cliffside, etc. etc., so did she.

With the wind at her back from turnout, endorsements and expectations, Perdue managed to stay in the lead throughout the primary despite early missteps.

Turnout in Wake County

As of 2:15 p.m., 13 precincts in Wake County had reported early turnout numbers at the polls.

Precinct 1-15 had the highest percentage at 27 percent. The district is 90 percent white, 57 percent female and is located in a liberal enclave near Meredith College and N.C. State and not far from Whole Foods.

Precinct 1-29 had a turnout of 26 percent. It's 97 percent white and 53 percent female. The site is located in a middle-class neighborhood near the North Hills mall.

The precinct reporting the lowest turnout, 1-23, had received 7 percent of its voters at 1:30 p.m. The site is on the corner of Hillsborough Street and Pullen Road, mainly a neighborhood of college students. The district is 56 percent male.

The average turnout percentage for all reporting precincts was 16.8 percent. The highest number of voters at any one precinct so far was 698.

The numbers don't account for absentee and one-stop votes, which will be released at 7:30 p.m.

Reading the exit polls tonight

What numbers matter in the exit polls tonight?

In a post on The Primary Source, Peter St. Onge of the Charlotte Observer puts his finger on three:

The White Vote for Clinton, 65 percent: The Clinton campaign has focused its campaigning largely on the white, blue-collar vote in North Carolina. Hillary Clinton has spent most of her time away from the big cities here, and husband Bill has toured dozens of rural N.C. towns and smaller cities. If the exit polls show Hillary Clinton winning more than 65 percent of the white vote, that'll mean those small-town voters have turned out for her. Without that number, she likely won't win.

The African-American turnout, 35 percent: The big question among pollsters this week is how many blacks will vote in North Carolina. In 2004, 32 percent of N.C. voters were black. In early voting this year, the total was just more than 40 percent. The latter total is likely due to Obama's significant get-out-the-vote efforts, but if Obama can approach that number today - say, a 35 percent black turnout - his win will be more than five points. If the turnout is less than 30 percent, Clinton will be celebrating. 

The Meck Vote, 200K: You'll likely be reading about busy precincts and record turnout in Mecklenburg County today. The more voters that show, the better the news for Obama. Mecklenburg offers his best demographics - young voters, black voters, better-educated voters. If the Democratic primary vote approaches 200,000 here, that's good news for him. 

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