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If you’ve ever been involved in political campaigns, you know there comes a point when you have drained every ounce of energy and resources available and exhausted, you declare, “it’s all over but the shouting.”
In a matter of hours, we will have reached that point for this year’s elections.
The 2018 “blue moon” election — because once every blue moon we have an election in which there is no statewide contest for governor or senator — is framed on the national level by an ongoing federal investigation into our last election, the most controversial president any of us have ever known, the #MeToo movement, a wild nomination for a Supreme Court justice, shootings, bomb threats and racial strife.
In North Carolina the runup featured repeated legislative special sessions, court cases and disputes regarding districts and the balance of power, with two hurricanes added into the mix. The current climate is angry, divisive and highly partisan.
Early in-person and absentee ballot voting, with four days remaining, saw 1.3 million votes cast from among our 7 million registered voters. That number might likely exceed 2 million, a record for midterm elections.
Professor Michael Bitzer of Catawba College helped us drill down into those numbers. Democrats account for 43 percent of the 1.3 million, Republicans are 30 percent and unaffiliated voters represent 27 percent of the total. Fifty-four percent are women and almost one-half of that cohort are registered Democrats. Seventy-three percent are white, with Republicans holding a narrow lead.
It isn’t a surprise that of the 21 percent who are African-Americans, 88 percent are Democrats. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers lead the early vote totals, but in every age group, Democrats lead Republicans, with the exception of 18-21 year-olds, where unaffiliated voters tie Democrats.
Knowledgeable analysts caution not to ascribe too much meaning to early vote numbers. Election Day voting totals will far surpass early voting; the trends can and likely will change, but here’s what my experience tells me: there is generally a reason why large numbers of people turn out to vote and it almost always portends change.
I don’t think it an anomaly that Democrats and women are turning out in strength. Does that indicate the “blue wave” might become a reality? I’m not willing to make that call yet, but here are some predictions I will make.
North Carolina’s 10-3 Republican congressional plurality will be reduced to 9-4, with the 13th District won by Democrat Dan McReady. Our 4-3 Democratic majority on the N.C. Supreme Court will expand to 5-2, with the election of Democrat Anita Earls. Five of the six constitutional amendments proposed by our legislature will pass, the only defeat coming over judicial vacancies.
Democrats will make gains in both our state House and Senate, however, not enough to take control of either chamber. Dems will gain enough to eliminate the veto-proof majority in the House, giving Gov. Roy Cooper more voice in legislation.
But seeing as this is Halloween season, don’t be surprised to see more legislative “tricks” coming prior to the end of the year, of course to the disadvantage of Democrats.
Tuesday’s final outcomes might take as long as last week’s 18-inning World Series game, but just as in that game one side will be cheering, the other moaning. Our great hope is our state and nation will be the final winners when the shouting is over.
Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina state treasurer and is creator/host of “N.C. Spin,” a weekly statewide television discussion that airs on the UNC-TV main channel Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. and on the UNC North Carolina Channel Fridays at 10 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m. Contact him at www.ncspin.com.