Unaffiliated Voters in Orange County

Guest Post by George Entenman

I've been grabbing the raw Absentee and One Stop voting data every day for the last week or so (I am doing it for the Orange County Democratic Party). Here are my final counts from the raw data downloaded from the SBOE site this morning at 6:09 am Sunday.

Here's the Orange County early voting data through Saturday, the last day of early voting (there may be more absentee ballots received):

DEM : 1573 (51.79%)
UNA : 842 (27.72%)
REP : 610 (20.09%)
LIB : 12 (0.40%)
Total absentee votes: 3037
One Stop (Early) Voting, By Party
DEM : 18440 (60.96%)
UNA : 6331 (20.93%)
REP : 5371 (17.76%)
LIB : 106 (0.35%)
Total early votes: 30248

Notice some interesting things about Orange County:

1. More Democratic and Unaffiliated voters voted absentee than did Republicans.

2. More Democratic and Unaffiliated voters voted early than did Republicans.

3. In both cases the more traditional Rep - Dem - Una order prevailed in statewide early voting - see below.

Notice, too, that Unaffiliated voters not only voted early in greater numbers than did Republicans in Orange County, they also registered in greater numbers, since July anyway:

        Orange County Registrations after July 4th 2004, by Party
Democratic:   6062 (45.95%)
Unaffiliated: 4356 (33.02%)
Republican:   2681 (20.32%)
Libertarian:  94 (0.71%)

So here's a question that I'd like to pose to you politically savy folks reading this: What, if anything, do these numbers tell us about Unaffiliated voters?

Here's what I'm guessing. The percentage of Unaffiliateds who register and vote in Orange County is higher than it is statewide because Orange County voters are less conservative than our increasingly Republican state as a whole. That's why they don't register as Republicans. (Note: I have statewide early voting data, not recent registration data.)

But why don't they register as Democrats? Are they more conservative than Democrats?

If this is so, then it might help answer the question that constantly bedevils us Democrats: should we become more populist (i.e., join the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party) or should we move to the center? ("Should" of course is used in a political rather than a moral sense here.)

I would especially like to hear from Unaffiliated voters. How do you feel about the parties that you didn't join? Do you all want to vote for Nader in your hearts? Dean? Pat Buchanan?

I also feel that Democrats have a "message" problem - we're plenty patriotic, for example. I also feel that we ought to emphasize some of the civil liberties issues (you know, the 1st and 4th ammendements, for example) that "true" conservatives resonate to.

For reference, here are the early voting stats for NC as a whole:

        North Carolina
REP: : 48292 (45.51%)
DEM: : 38868 (36.63%)
UNA: : 18748 (17.67%)
LIB: : 193 (0.18%)
UNKNOWN: : 2 (0.00%)
RFM: : 1 (0.00%)
Total absentee votes: 106104
DEM: : 355403 (50.38%)
REP: : 254891 (36.13%)
UNA: : 94162 (13.35%)
LIB: : 1004 (0.14%)
RFM: : 2 (0.00%)
Total early votes: 705462



I'm registered "unaffiliated." Why? Well, I don't feel I fit in EITHER party. I'm fiscally conservative, but I believe we need some form of nationalized health care/insurance. ( I would like to pay it as we go. ) I'm SOCIALLY liberal. (I don't feel like anyone else's right to marry threatens MY marriage.) 30+ years ago I'd have been a Rockefeller Republican. SO--I'm registered "unaffiliated"... as is my husband and our older child. My guess is that when the younger one turns 18 he will register "unaffiliated" as well.

Jim David the comedian talks about being registered unafiliated--he says "I can't register as a Democrat because I like to keep the money I make. I can't register as a Republican because I want to spend that money on drugs and whores." Not EXACTLY my sentiments...but not TOO far off.

I could have voted for Dean--but I'd have been happier with McCain. Or Colin Powell, for that matter. I'd have been happier voting for Jim Bradley than I was for Gore. I wanted Tsongas to get nomination, not Clinton. I voted for Anderson in 1980. (My first ever presidential election...and the only time I've ever voted for a third party. Since then I've voted for the Dem--though often reluctantly.)

I don't know what any of this has to say about "unaffiliateds"...my guess is that we all have our quirks and reasons.

Hey George. I'm one of those mysterious unaffiliated voters. I have been a U almost my entire voting life, with a brief stint as a D when you had to be one to vote in the primary in NC.

I am not affiliated with the Democratic Party because I have just slightly less contempt for the state and national DP than I do for the GOP. For the last decade, I have seen party leaders and elected officials squander progressive values and stand up for nothing but their own re-election. Although there were a few inspiring moments at the DNC, they were mostly when party outcasts like Al Sharpton spoke, and I just can't bring myself to care about the party on a national scale - although I care about the outcome of elections a LOT.

The local party, which I'm only tangentially familiar with, is an exception to this about 90% of the time. I think they are doing good stuff and supporting good candidates, but I would still like to see more principled leadership on challenging issues.

So in answer to your question, I would be much happier voting for Dean than for Kerry. Even a moderate like Dean would represent a compromise of my values, but one I'm willing to make to save our country. When I voted for Kerry, it was a desperate act to save my life.

I was an Unaffiliated voter until I starting carrying around a petition to get Dean on the Dem primary ballot here in NC. I became a Dem so I could sign the ballot.

I've been a registered Independent everywhere else, except for a brief stint with the (pre-Nader) Greens.

I share folks feelings about the national Democratic Party, but have finally decided that the US is really a two party system and the only way to get a national party I like is to work at turning the Dem Party into that.

Will & Lee, your comments have absolutely nothing to do with unaffiliated voters OR Orange County. Feel free to post these comments on our Open Election Thread: http://orangepolitics.org/2004/10/open-election-thread/ or to visit a website concerned with state and national races such as Daily KOS: http://dailykos.com

If you continue your off-topic comments on this thread, they will be removed with no further warning.

The 50.4% Democratic early vote turnout this year is up four points over the 46.2% early vote turnout in 2000. Republican early voters are 36% this year, down from 38% four years ago. If this is indicative of the national trend, it should be a very good sign for Kerry-Edwards. But it won't be enough to carry North Carolina.

If a correlation can be drawn between early vote turnout and the final result on election day, this is what I think can be extrapolated from the data.

A 46.2% Dem early vote turnout in 2000 led to an eventual 56%-43% Bush-Gore split in North Carolina. The ratio of 46.2% to 43% is 1.07 (46.2% / 43% = 1.07).

By applying that ratio to this year's 50.4% Dem early vote turnout, Kerry-Edwards could expect to end up with 47% of the vote in North Carolina (50.4% / 1.07 = 47%).

For Kerry-Edwards to carry North Carolina with 50.5% of the vote, Dem turnout would need to reach about 54% (50.5% x 1.07 = 54%).

A simplified correlation would be:

46% Dem = 43% Gore in 2000
50% Dem = 47% Kerry in 2004
54% Dem = 51% Kerry in 2004

Kerry-Edwards are about halfway to what they need to carry North Carolina. But North Carolina is not a state they need to win. This election will be decided in the states where both campaigns have been directing all their fire for the past several weeks. It's going to be very close, but I'm optimistic we'll wake up Nov. 3 with a new president-elect.

Lee Mortimer

Which has WHAT to do with why people choose to register unaffiliated?

Going out a little on a limb here, but if you factor in the major increases in registrations here in Orange county, Durham, Asheville, Boone, Greenville and Wilmington and (here's the leap) infer that these lopsided registrations represent the great unpolled youth of our state, added with what will be a huge turnout in the urban corridor stretching from Raleigh to Charlotte, I conclude Kerry wins in a squeaker - 0.8 % margin.

Do NH hamlets foretell a trend ?

Could the final vote reported from the New Hampshire hamlets of Hart's Location and Dixville Notch foretell a trend? These two hamlets cast a combined total of 56 votes for the Democratic and Republican candidates in both 2000 and 2004. The results are in and can be compared:


Bush 38 votes (68%)
Gore 18 votes (32%)


Bush 35 votes (63%)
Kerry 21 votes (37%)

Kerry improved on the Gore performance in both locations for a combined gain of five percentage points. If the trend holds nationally, we can expect a victory.

Lee Mortimer

Ruby's view represents some of the reason for UA registration on a national level, reflected here locally in the numbers- - - the principled viewpont. Here in Orange County however, there is another, more practical reason. As elections such as the Co. Commission are partisan, registering UA enables one the flexibility to vote in any Primary one wants, depending on what the voter believes is more important. Although this is changing somewhat with the influx of more Republican registrants, it is hard for local folks to have much say in such partisan elections if they are registered Republican. By the same token, in the event someone wants to weigh in on a Republican Primary, they cannot do so if they are registered Democrat.


I am an unaffiliated voter in Orange County. The reason for that is that I feel as an elected official you should be accountable to the people who put you into office, not a Party (ie Democrats and Republicans) I also like to vote for the person I feel is going to do the better job. I guess I have never been able to be labeled. However I am going to run for Sheriff of Orange County in 2006 as an Unaffiliated person. I'll be looking for signatures on a petition to be placed on the ballot. Thanks for your time.


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