The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

November 1, 2012

What the data shows about NC voters

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 — “It is the greatest thing that could happen to the conservative cause in North Carolina.”

Back in 1988, former state representative Ivan Mothershead, a Mecklenburg Republican, was commenting on my move from Charlotte to Chapel Hill.

“Your move will make two communities a lot more conservative.”

Ivan’s humor pointed out an uncontested fact. Chapel Hill is a whole lot more liberal than Charlotte. It took some time for me to get used to being to the right of many of my friends and neighbors in Chapel Hill after being to the left of lots of my Charlotte friends.

All that came cascading back as I read the report on the composition of North Carolina’s electorate in the October issue of DataNet, published by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Program on Public Life, which is led by former News & Observer journalist Ferrel Guillory. DataNet will be available on line later this week at

One of Guillory’s many items designed to show the complicated make-up of the North Carolina voters compared the presidential campaign contributions this year in two zip code areas: 28207 in Charlotte and 27514 in Chapel Hill. Coincidentally, I lived in 28207 before my move and now live in 27514.

So far this year my former Charlotte zip code neighbors have given $250,700 to Romney and $74,408 to Obama, a ratio of about four to one.

Meanwhile, my current Chapel Hill zip code neighbors gave $ 325,830 to Obama and $61,925 to Romney, a ratio of about five to one.

These contribution reports show that Mothershead knew what he was talking about when he pointed out the differing political allegiances of my former and current neighborhoods.

Geography does make a big difference in North Carolina, and DataNet has delved into them in several previous issues. The current issue highlights changing patterns in the state as a whole.

In 1996, eight of 10 North Carolina voters were white. In 2008, it was about seven in 10. The African-American share of the electorate has risen from 18 percent to 23 percent, while Latinos, Asians and other ethnic groups make up the difference. While whites still make up a heavy majority, the DataNet report shows their dominating position is gradually decreasing.

In the 2008 election, Obama got the votes of more than 50 percent of people with incomes of $50,000 or less. Among those who made between $50,000 and $200,000, Obama’s support dropped significantly. Surprisingly though, almost 50 percent of those making over $200,000 voted for Obama.

Many North Carolinians, whatever their political persuasion, have been barraged by political ads on television. The cost as of mid-October was about $85 million. But, according to DataNet, not all parts of North Carolina got the same amount of attention. For instance, no candidate had bought ads in the Wilmington market, although there was some spending there by independent groups in support of one of the candidates. Romney’s campaign had spent no money for TV ads in the Asheville market.

DataNet called the 2008 election a “tide-changing” one in light of Democrat Obama’s slim victory, after years of solid victories by Republican presidential candidates in our state. Now Guillory writes, “Thus, we await the results of the 2012 election to provide more data on whether 2008 represented the emergence of a new trend, or whether North Carolina will return to its previous pattern of giving its electoral votes to Republicans in presidential elections.”

However, the facts that Guillory shares with us in DataNet indicate that whichever candidate carries North Carolina next week, the trend of close presidential contests in North Carolina is likely to continue this year and for some years to come.

Whether we like it or not.


Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    NEW YORK - Economists love hamburgers. Specifically fast-food burgers. This is partly because all right-thinking human beings love ground meat on a bun, but it's also because the sandwich makes a handy yardstick for international financial comparisons. The ingredients and labor involved in preparing a Big Mac are pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world, so by looking at how many hours of toiling it takes a worker to earn enough to purchase one, you can get a sense of how wages really stack up across countries. The Economist famously created the Big Mac index in 1986 to see which currencies were overvalued. It started as a joke. Now, as the magazine proudly notes, it's a subject of academic study.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    WASHINGTON - What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Doug Creamer All in the Family

    We had a family get-together at my brother’s house on Easter Sunday. It’s hard to get our family together because we are spread out, especially when you consider nieces and nephews. My parents and siblings all made the gathering this year. Some of my nieces and nephews are far away, but they all remember gathering at my brother’s house for the holidays. Easter is known for the Jell-O eggs and the famous Easter egg hunt.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content