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It's not just red vs. blue: more voters in North Carolina are registered as unaffiliated

In some counties, the number of unaffiliated voters eclipses voters registered as Republicans or Democrats.

RALEIGH, N.C. — With the 2022 midterm elections just around the corner, voters will be heading to the polls to decide who will represent them for all sorts of leadership roles, from local governments to state and federal seats. As incumbent officials and challengers alike ramp up their campaigns, they not only will want to appeal to their own party's base, but those who haven't yet picked a party.

In North Carolina, Democrats and Republicans will have their work cut out for them; roughly one-third of all active, inactive, and temporarily registered voters in the Tar Heel State are listed as unaffiliated.

Dr. Michael Bitzer, a professor of politics at Catawba College, shared a look at voter registration data from the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE), which was released on Saturday. Of North Carolina's roughly 7.2 million voter pool, just shy of 2.5 million voters are not affiliated with the Republican, Democratic, or Libertarian parties. That means roughly 35% of the state's voter pool hasn't picked a party.

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Meanwhile, 34% of those voters ticked the box for the Democrats, while about 30% of registered voters aligned with the Republicans. Just 1% of all registered voters aligned with the Libertarian Party.

WCNC Charlotte decided to look closer at the data released by the NCSBE to see exactly which counties saw the most unaffiliated registered voters. When ordering the data based on unaffiliated voters from highest to lowest, Wake County saw 318,466 unaffiliated voters registered, eclipsing the nearly 288,000 registered Democrats and more than 179,000 Republicans. Mecklenburg County had the second-highest total of unaffiliated voters at 281,441; registered Democrats make up most voter pool in Mecklenburg County with just shy of 333,000, while Republicans are just under 162,000 registered voters.

The new data sheds light on how North Carolinians are choosing to declare themselves ahead of the midterm election cycle, one that is already seeing plenty of attention in the Tar Heel State; controversy around election maps continues to swirl, as just one example.

Here's a look at how many unaffiliated voters are registered in each county in the Charlotte metro area:

  • Mecklenburg: 281,441
  • Union: 57,948
  • Cabarrus: 53,944
  • Gaston: 49,743
  • Iredell: 48,155
  • Catawba: 38,711
  • Rowan: 30,557
  • Burke: 20,467
  • Cleveland: 19,718
  • Watauga: 19,342
  • Caldwell: 16,774
  • Stanly: 13,413
  • Alexander: 8,093
  • Richmond: 8,040
  • Ashe: 6,427
  • Avery: 3,783
  • Anson: 3,722

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Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.

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