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Obama Wins NC by 500,00 votes- you heard it here first

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Obama has laid the foundation for electoral victory in NC by focusing on key organizational efforts.  First, voter registration efforts have been substantial.  The NC State Board of Elections currently shows a Democratic registration advantage of 837,414.  As of October 21, the Early Vote effort has been overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats- by about 2 to 1.  Finally the voter turnout effort is strong- as evidenced by the Early Vote effort.  This is the model that Obama is implementing in key battleground states, and the extent of its success is not reflected in the generic voter preference polling averages.

I have developed a model that combines demographic data from the NC Board of Elections with the results and breakdown of the early vote tally as reported from Oct 16-Oct 21, the first six days early voting.  This model allows the user to manipulate key elements of election behavior.  First, one can adjust the Election Day turnout percentage for each major party.  The second variable is the breakdown of the independent vote for each candidate.  Every model operates on a given set of assumptions.  My assumptions are:

  • The early vote effort will continue consistently at the levels from the first six days, with the overall Democratic advantage maintained at 2 to 1.
  • The party registration will reflect the actual vote recorded for either Obama or McCain.  Polling shows that a given candidate receives 85-95% or their party's support.  For the purposes of this model, I am assuming that a vote remains in line with the party affiliation.  Fluctuations in voter loyalty will largely off set, as the net loss and gain works to both sides advantage and disadvantage.

 Early voting is an important part of electoral strategy.  Among the many revolutionary tactics being tested and implemented by the Obama campaign, early voting is perhaps one of the more important elements of his strategy.  One analyst compared early voting to a 100 yard dash.  He characterized Democrats as having a 20 yard head start, based on numbers thus far in key battleground states.   This is especially true, as the numbers for six days show 481,000 early votes, with 56% being Democratic registrants (as opposed to 23% for Republicans).  That trend, when averaged out over the 16 total days of early voting, produces a vote differential of 371,973.   George Bush beat John Kerry by 435,317 votes in 2004.  The charts below show the model’s estimation for early voting, and the second chart is the current demographic data for registered voters at large in North Carolina.

Early Voting Data and Estimates

Early Vote Numbers 10/16 – 10/21


Average Daily Vote Total


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Days Remaining for Early Voting


Estimated Total Ballots Cast Early


Early Voting Trends Based on Initial Six Days

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Total Registered

Early Vote %

Total Est Early

Remaining Votes





















The baseline for early voting data is a broad trend, the net result reflecting a significant democratic advantage in the total ballots turned in early.  Based on this Election Day scenario, there are two factors to consider on Election Day, factors that are in play in every state.  Independent voters make up a large portion of the electorate.  The ability for Obama or McCain to attract these Independent voters is a key to success.  Finally, as always, the ability to turn out the base of the party is significant.  In the past, Republicans have proven better at turnout on Election Day.  While it is perfectly reasonable to assume that Obama’s campaign has reversed the advantage in turnout, as a result of the early voting numbers, it’s ultimately a different variable for the actual day of November 4. 

My model is essentially a summation of the early voting data, the turnout impact on the three voter affiliation populations, and the split of the independent vote.  Demographically, the high number of registered Democrats (a credit to the Obama organization over the last year) and early voting performance make a scenario for a McCain victory rather implausible.  Several scenerios are outlined below, and while I expect Obama to perform better than the levels below, its clear how the deck is stacked against McCain.  In fact, the big story being missed by the media and election pundits is the foundational demographics that set the stage many months ago.

Scenerio:  McCain Wins Independent Vote 60 to 40, and voter turnout among Democrats Trails High Turnout Relative to the Total Population

Turnout %
















Its clear that even if McCain can produce huge turnout numbers and win the Independent vote, Obama would still finish ahead of McCain by 8,500 votes.  The total turnout on an election day such as this would be 68%.  A more realistic expectation is that the Independent vote might be split evenly, and turnout is around 60% on Election Day (see below).  Obama wins by 651,238.

Turnout %
















Obama is more likely to win NC than he is to loose.  In fact, a collapse of monumental proportion would have to occur for Obama to loose.  Obama must maintain his early vote effort, and perform reasonably strong on Election Day.  He doesn’t have to overwhelm McCain on election day, he simply must perform reasonably well.  This is a model which the campaign has implemented in the battleground states:  register new voters to change the playing field, and turn out voters early to gain a head start.  Based on my model, running various scenerios, I predict that Obama will win NC by 500,000 to 700,000 votes.


Kelly Bowling lives in Raleigh, NC and graduated from Duke University in 2000. He aspires to be a political columnist for the Washington Post.

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.... I just hope you don't lose your idealism ... by Mystic Wizard on Sunday, Oct 26, 2008 at 3:11:07 PM


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