North Carolina is rapidly becoming a state dominated by unaffiliated voters — and some counties are already there.
Seven counties already have more unaffiliated voters than either Democrats or Republicans, according to statistics from the State Board of Elections.
- New Hanover
These counties are relatively small. But Wake County, the state’s second-largest, is about to join this group.
Wake currently has 262,086 registered Democrats, and 261,304 voters registered unaffiliated. Based on current trends, the two should flip-flop sometime this year. Republicans number 180,565 in Wake County.
Unaffiliated voters have already surpassed the statewide registered Republican population. GOP campaign strategist Paul Shumaker expects unaffiliated to exceed Democrats by 2022 or 2024.
What does this mean?
It can be tempting to use this as evidence that North Carolina voters are moderate, centrist independents. However, most unaffiliated voters vote with one party just as often as actual registered members of that party.
These numbers do suggest, though, that the party structure in North Carolina is losing its influence. The country’s two major parties have dominated politics for more than a century, but voters increasingly seem to be rejecting them as institutions — just like the Rotary Club.
Party leaders would be wise to try to find out why, and whether they can or should try to reverse the trend.