By on 11.4.22 in Elections & Voting

As of October 29th, 2022, North Carolina had about 7.4 million registered voters. Their partisan affiliation was roughly split between three groups: Democrat, unaffiliated, and Republican, with a slight lead to unaffiliated voters. Specifically:

  • 2,495,097 or 34% were registered Democrat;
  • 2,637,581 or 36% were registered Unaffiliated;
  • 2,221,179 or 30% were registered Republican; and
  • 50,511 or 0.7% were registered to another party.

Other party registrations included Libertarian (50,272 or 0.7%) and Green Party (239 or 0.0%).

Voter registration in NC

Who are these voters? And how do demographic characteristics vary among the largest affiliation groups (Democratic, Republican, and Unaffiliated)?

Registration Date

Statewide, just over one fifth (20%) of voters first registered to vote in 2000 or earlier. This was roughly a quarter of North Carolina’s Democrat and Republican voters and less than one in eight unaffiliated voters first registered during this time.

Seventy percent of unaffiliated voters first registered between either 2010-2019 (43%) or in 2020 or after (28%); around 55% of Democrat and Republican voters registered in 2010 or later. This reflects two factors: first, age group differences in partisan affiliation and second, the rise of unaffiliated voters in recent years.

Date-of-registration

Age

Young voters are more likely to register as unaffiliated than any other age group: 45% of 18-34 year-olds are registered unaffiliated versus 38% of 35-44 year-olds, 28% of 55-74 year-olds, and 24% of voters 75 and older.

Young voters are more likely to register as unaffiliated than any other age group: 45% of 18-34 year-olds are registered unaffiliated versus 38% of 35-44 year-olds, 28% of 55-74 year-olds, and 24% of voters 75 and older.

Conversely, 18-34 year-olds are least likely to register as Republican (23%) and adults ages 55-74 (36%) and 75 and older (37%) are the most likely to register as Republican. Older voters—ages 75 and older—are the most likely to register as Democrats (39%), followed by voters 55-74 (36%).

Reflecting these age patterns in partisan affiliation, the youngest voters make up the smallest share of Republican voters (23%) and the largest share of unaffiliated voters (45%). Meanwhile, both Republican and Democrat registered voters have a higher share of voters ages 55-74 and a slightly higher share of 75 and older than the electorate overall.

Race/Ethnicity

There are significant differences in party registration by race and ethnicity. Black (76%) and American Indian (43%) voters are most likely to be registered Democrat while white (21%) voters are least likely to be registered Democrat. In contrast, white voters (41%) are most likely to be registered Republican and black (2%) voters are least likely to be registered Republican. Asian (52%) and voters most likely to be registered unaffiliated, followed by Hispanic (44%) and White voters (37%). Black voters (21%) are the least likely to be registered unaffiliated.

Black (76%) and American Indian (43%) voters are most likely to be registered Democrat while white (21%) voters are least likely to be registered Democrat.

As a result of these differing registration patterns, North Carolina’s registered Republicans are overwhelmingly white. Eighty-nine percent of Republican voters are white compared to 64% of the electorate overall.

Democratic voters are the only party where white voters are a minority of registered voters: Black voters comprise the largest share of registered Democrats (45%) while whites make up 21% of Democrats.

Unaffiliated voters are more diverse, with higher shares of Hispanic (4%) and Asian (2%) voters than the electorate overall.

Unaffiliated voters are more diverse, with higher shares of Hispanic (4%) and Asian (2%) voters than the electorate overall. The high shares of “Unknown” or Multi race voters among unaffiliated registrants (14%) largely reflects increases in the share of recently registered voters who do not report a race or ethnic identification on their voter registration form.

Place of birth

Almost half (50%) of registered voters in North Carolina was born in the state. New York (7%), other countries (6%), and Virginia (4%) were the next most common places of birth.

North Carolina-born voters disproportionately more likely to be registered Democrats (53%) and Republicans (51%) and less likely to be unaffiliated voters (42%).

Party preferences vary by place of birth with some regional patterns evident. DC and Carolina-born voters were most likely to register as Democrats: 49% of voters born in DC are registered as Democrats, the highest of any state of birth, followed by South Carolina (40%) and North Carolina (37%) born voters.

Midwestern-born voters were most likely to register as Republican: 41% of West Virginia-born voters are registered Republican, followed by South Dakota (49%), Kentucky (38%), Oklahoma (36%), Indiana (35%), and Nebraska (35%).

Northeastern-born voters, meanwhile, were most likely to register unaffiliated. Around half of Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts-born voters registered as unaffiliated, followed by Vermont (47%).

Geography

Across North Carolina’s 100 counties, the partisan affiliation of voters varies widely, reflecting county differences in composition by age, race/ethnicity, and place of birth. Voters in western counties are generally more likely to be registered Republican, for example, while those in northeastern counties are more likely to be registered Democrat.

Fifty-eight percent of active voters in Mitchell County were registered Republican, the highest rate statewide. Mitchell also had the lowest rate of registered Democratic voters at 10%. In Hertford County, meanwhile, 66% of voters are registered Democrat, the highest rate statewide; Hertford also had the lowest rate of registered Republican voters at 11%.

There are less clear regional patterns in unaffiliated registrations. The top 10 counties for unaffiliated voters include:

  • Western counties of Transylvania (45%), Watauga (45%), Henderson (43%), Jackson and Buncombe (41%);
  • Coastal counties of Camden (44%), Currituck (42%), and Dare (41%), and;
  • The Triangle counties of Wake (41%) and Orange (40%).

 

 

 


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