“Bless their hearts…”

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I’m here at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, waiting for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to talk at a Democratic dinner. A few minutes ago, I talked to Caroline Valand, the executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party:

She got a sense that something important might be happening here in the state last January, when the person who runs their voter files told her he was seeing a surge in Democratic registrations. Valand’s first thought: “Well, bless their hearts. They actually think North Carolina is going to matter this year.” It turns out these new voters knew more than she did. This is the first real Democratic presidential primary contest North Carolina has seen since 1988, when it was one of the Super Tuesday states. And as of midnight last night, she says, more than 300,000 people in the state had already voted in primary early voting–a number that “smashes every record we’ve ever had. … In the last six weeks, it has just completely exploded.”

The early voting is running 5:1 Democratic, Valand says, despite the fact that the Republicans have some spirited state and local races on their primary ballot Tuesday. “It’s been amazing. The Republican Party actually had a net loss” in early voting, she added. (North Carolina is a state where independents can vote in either primary.)

UPDATE: Party stats after the jump


VOTER REGISTRATION
As of May 2nd
Democratic: 2,627, 175
Republican: 1,933,550
Unaffilliated: 1,243,447
MORE VOTERS SWITCHED THEIR REGISTRATION TO DEMOCRAT AND UNAFFILIATED
45,000 Voters switched their party registration this year in North Carolina
42 percent switched to the Democratic Party
42.2 percent switched to Unaffiliated
15 percent became Republicans
The biggest jump this year was from Republican to unaffiliated.
The second biggest jump was from Republican to Democrat. ***
(The News and Observer, 5/02/08)

STRONG AND ENTHUSIASTIC EARLY VOTE
330,000 voters have already voted in this year’s primary
80% of these early voters voted in the Democratic Primary

RECORD INTEREST IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Record 5,000 Democrats at tonight¹s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner
JJ Dinner on track to break all fundraising records for the
dinner

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