CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The debates are over, but the race is on as millions of North Carolina voters have yet to cast their ballots. However, with record turnout already for early voting, election day itself may look a bit different.
"Election Day is going to look tame compared to most presidential elections because of the turnout in early voting," said Susan Roberts, a political scientist at Davison College.
As of Thursday morning, more than 2.5 million North Carolinians had already voted, either by mail or early voting, according to the state's board of elections. That's about a 33% voter turnout.
It's why Roberts believes election day will go smoothly.
"I think we'll still have heavy turnout, but I don't think the lines will be quite as long," she explained.
As expected, Democrats have cast the most votes so far, with more than a million, according to data released by the state's board of election Thursday morning.
Currently, unaffiliated voters have the second-highest turnout with 698,179 votes. Republicans, so far, have the lowest turnout 691,174 votes.
Roberts says that will likely change on election day.
"Republicans may turn out in greater numbers on election day because I think the closer it looks the more republicans are going to be mobilized and energized," she said.
It may surprise you, but there are more registered unaffiliated voters than registered republicans in the Tarheel state. Those unaffiliated registries are about 170,000 away from being the lead party in the state.
Here's a breakdown of registered voters by party:
- Democrats: 2,608,368
- Unaffiliated: 2,441,724
- Republicans: 2,206,816
Roberts believes those who are unaffiliated are tired of both parties and the people in them, and says some might not vote at all or could be voters who still need to be convinced to get to the polls.
"Maybe that's why North Carolina is so ripe for the picking," Roberts said. "The unaffiliated vote is a wildcard and we that's a vote we'll just have to see what happens."
Roberts said in a way to convince those who have not yet voted to turnout on election day, we can expect to see a barrage of negative ads over the next week and a half as candidates head into the homestretch.