Comparative early vote returns (absentee only, but NC has a provision for “one stop” absentee voting) are now up for view at earlyvoting.net/states/nc.php.
Thanks to James Hicks (with a thesis deadline just 48 hours away!) and Peter Miller (soon at be at UC Irvine) for getting these to work, and to the NC DoE for letting us know how to find the file. The nice web work is courtesy of James–if you click on the last image (2002), you can continue to click to scroll through the images (at least on my Mac it works that way).
It’s important to look at the vertical axis on these graphs–the current turnout in NC (seven days before the primary) is an order of magnitude higher than the final early voting turnout in 2004.
What’s going on? We’ve seen doubling and even a few cases of tripling of early voting turnout in this contest, but ten to fifteen times higher?
The answer is simple (and thanks to Bill Gilkeson of the NC Legislature’s redistricting office for pointing this out): due to redistricting, the 2004 NC primary was pushed back to July 24th. By that point, the presidential race was off the ballot, and the turnout was very low.
Another nice feature of the NC data is that it also allows us to plot these early returns in every contest since 2002, so interested readers can compare on and off year elections and general and primary elections