Democrats are closing the gap with the GOP among newly registered voters, even though Union County remains solidly Republican, latest figures from the county Board of Elections show.
Since Jan. 1, 4,562 Republicans have registered to vote, county elections director John Whitley said last week. New Democrats numbered 4,481. There were also 3,995 newly registered unaffiliated voters.
Compare this year's numbers with 2004 voter rolls, and a picture emerges of a strengthening Democratic base in Union County.
For all of 2004, new Republicans outnumbered new Democrats 6,148 to 3,145 – a nearly 2-to-1 ratio. Unaffiliated voters totaled 3,040.
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N.C. Sen. Eddie Goodall, a Weddington Republican, said interest in Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama seems to be driving up Democratic rolls – to Goodall's chagrin.
“It's certainly disappointing to us Republicans,” said Goodall, who's running unopposed for re-election in his western Union County senate district.
N.C. Rep. Pryor Gibson, a Wadesboro Democrat who represents eastern Union County and Anson County, said the nation's weakening economy is working to his party's advantage. “I don't know if it's cyclical. I hope it's not,” said Gibson, running for re-election against Republican John Barker of Marshville.
In Union, Republicans still comprise a plurality of voters as a whole. There are 51,912 registered Republicans, compared to 36,935 Democrats and 27,654 unaffiliated voters.
The influx of new registered voters mirrors a statewide trend. Some 400,000 new N.C. voters this year have swollen the rolls to a record 6 million. Registered Democrats comprise 48 percent of new voters in North Carolina; 21 percent were Republicans. Nearly one-third are independents.
All the voter registration numbers are adjusted for voters who have moved, died or otherwise been removed from the rolls, Whitley said.