Contrary trends in NC early voting data

Although it looks like Democratic registrants are taking more advantage of in-person early voting than Republicans, what are we to make of the evidence from NC that (at least there) Republican registrants are taking even more advantage of mail-in absentee balloting than in 2004?

In 2004, for instance, Republican registrants held a 9.2% point lead over Democratic registrants in civilian mail-in absentee ballots.  In 2008, thus far, that advantage is now up to 28.7% for the Republicans.  (Republican registrants have cast 55.4% of the civilian absentee votes, compared to 26.6% for Democrats.)

This is in sharp contrast to the Democratic shift in the one-stop balloting.  In 2004, Democratic registrants held a 14.2% advantage in the one-stop ballots; in 2008, that advantage has gone up to 32.0% for the Democrats.

Obviously, the net-net result here is positive for the Democrats — the form of early voting favored by Democratic registrants has grown faster than the form favored by Republicans, and it has done so in a way that has brought relatively more Democrats into the early electorate.  However, it is striking that in this “Democratic year,” mail-in absentee ballots in North Carolina are growing in number, and becoming even more Republican, to boot.