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Most new voters are Dems

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Of the 186,800 voters who have registered in North Carolina since January, 56 percent of them have registered as Democratic, as the party has made major gains in new registrations in most of the state’s 100 counties.

Meanwhile, 7 percent of the state’s new voters have registered as Republican and about one-third have registered as unaffiliated, according to the Program on Public Life, part of the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill.

According to the May 2 report, more than 21,000 new voters registered in Wake County, nearly two-thirds of whom registered as Democrats and roughly one-third of whom did so as unaffiliated. Four percent registered as Republicans.

Durham recorded 8,919 new voters, more than three-quarters of them Democrats. Republicans have sustained a net loss of 178 voters since January, although it’s unclear if these voters moved away or changed party affiliation, says Andrew Holton, Program on Public Life assistant director for research.

Among its 4,500 new registrations, Orange also recorded a net loss of Republicans—46—while the new voters split two-thirds/ one-third between Democrats and unaffiliated. And in Chatham, the number of new unaffiliated voters rivaled new Democrats, by a 572-667 margin. The GOP picked up 109 new voters.

Holton says these new voter registration totals are significant, as are the number of those identifying as unaffiliated. While it’s unknown whether unaffiliated voters will cast Democratic ballots in the fall, “they can influence a primary,” Holton said.

Overall registration figures, according to the N.C. Board of Elections show that 2.6 million voters are Democrats, 1.9 million are Republicans and 1.2 are unaffiliated. The total number of registered voters in North Carolina is more than 5.8 million.

Brent Woodcox, communications director for the N.C. Republican party attributes the Democratic surge to the tight presidential primary race. “The Democrats have a gift,” Woodcox said. “They have an exciting primary.”

Only in Camden, Cherokee and Stanly counties did new Republican voter registrations outnumber Democratic ones. However, Woodcox noted, the GOP has potential to pick up large numbers of unaffiliated voters. “The makings that we’re somehow slipping is overhyped,” Woodcox says. “We have John Mccain the foremost drawer of independents.”

Jerry Meek, N.C. Democratic chair, could not be reached Friday night, as it was the Jefferson-Jackson dinner.

To read the full report, go to www.southnow.org

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