Electoral Votes: 15
2008 Result (%): Obama 49.7-49.4
Voting Pattern Summary
North Carolina was considered a red state prior to Obama’s narrow victory in 2008. The Republican vote was almost identical in terms of the share of the voting eligible population in 2004 and 2008. The Obama upset was triggered by increased African-American and young voter turnout in the cities which are based in the Piedmont area in the centre of the state.
The Republican strength in 2008 was in the Appalachian rural mountainous west of the state. Prior to 2008 the Republicans polled well in the outer suburbs of the main cities. The coastal plain east of the state is also rural, but it swung heavily to the Democrats in 2008. The northern portion of this coastal plain tends to vote Democratic with the higher African-American population, over 50% in some counties, while the South-East which has a lower African-American tends to vote more Republican with the exception of areas around the city of Fayetteville.
With the Obama vote expected to fall in the Appalachian west of the state, the President will need to improve turnout or margin in urban counties if he is to hold the state, hence the urban counties are the one to watch on election night.
The tables of the key counties are below, please click to enlarge.
Note: Tables updated 6/11 due to application of two party vote share in place of unadjusted vote share.
The use of voting machines differs across North Carolina counties. Some counties use optical scanning machines, while others use digital recording devices (DRE). The DRE machines in North Carolina by law must produce a paper trail which voters can verify. The paper trail which looks like a shopping docket.
There are no automatic recounts in North Carolina, however if margin between the candidates is below the threshold (the lesser of 0.5% or 10,000 votes) then a candidate may demand a recount.
In a recount most votes are recounted using the same method as the initial count, i.e. optical scanning and electronic tabulations. However a sample of votes are recounted by hand. If there is a difference in the vote count after the recount then a defeated candidate or the initial winner may request a hand recount. For counties that use optical scanning machines to count paper ballots, the said ballots are counted by hand. For votes cast with DRE machines , the paper trail is inspected. A full summary of North Carolina recount laws can be found here.
Early Voting – Updated 6/11
According to the US election project website, the number of early votes cast in North Carolina at this election is equivalent to 62.9% of all 2008 votes cast. In 2008 the early vote share of all votes was 60.6%.