Democrat, unaffiliated ranks swell, Republicans decline in Polk County

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Democracy North Carolina, a Durham-based research and advocacy center, released an analysis of registration figures last week, showing that Democrats have added eight times as many new voters as Republicans since the beginning of the year.

Democrats gained 145,260 (5.7 percent) registered voters in North Carolina, while unaffiliated rose 94,801 (8 percent) and Republicans 17,009 (.08 percent). Overall, voter registration in the state reached nearly 5.9 million this month, an increase of nearly 5 percent since the beginning of the year.

In Polk County, the total rise has not been as steep, partly because of the decline in Republican registration. The number of registered Polk voters rose by 204 or about 1.4 percent between January 5 and July 19 of this year.

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Over that period unaffiliated voters were up 195, Democrats&bsp; up 90 and Republicans down 81.

The changes so far this year continue a trend in which unaffiliated voters in the county are rapidly gaining on the other two parties. If the trend continued at the current pace, unaffiliated voters could top Republicans and Democrats here in 2010.

Republicans now represent about 37 percent of all registered voters in the county, while Democrats are 34 percent and unaffiliated voters are 29 percent.

In the last presidential election year, Republicans represented 39 percent of registered voters, while Democrats were 36 percent and unaffiliated were just 24 percent.

This year&squo;s election is also attracting more Black and Hispanic voters.

The number of registered black voters in Polk County rose by 53, or 8.4 percent, between January 5 and July 19 of this year. The number of Hispanic voters was up 11, or 19 percent.

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, says that about one third of the new voters in the state this year are black. The state has gained nearly 90,000 black voters since the beginning of the year and more than 10,000 Hispanic voters, an increase of about 25 percent in that relatively new category for the state.