RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s a historic moment in North Carolina’s political history.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans are the majority of voters.
The largest voting block doesn’t identify with any party.
Just as North Carolina’s population has grown, so has the voting pool.
As of March 19, there are 7,241,158 registered voters in the state.
Unaffiliated voters now exceed registered Republicans and registered Democrats.
Chris Cooper teaches political science at Western Carolina University and has been closely watching the trend.
“I think there is just a general sense that people are done with politics the way that we do them today, that the two parties aren’t representing people. In this world where everything is politicized from where you eat for dinner to the kind of beer you drink,” Cooper said. “It makes some sense that people would say, ‘hey look, I’ve got my opinions but I don’t necessarily want to be part of those organizations,'” said Cooper.
When it comes to registered voters, Democrats have been losing ground since 1977.
After going up, Republican registrations are now trending downward and unaffiliated voters have skyrocketed.
This matters in North Carolina because the state has open primaries.
That means an unaffiliated voter can choose which party’s primary they want to vote in.
“Will unaffiliated voters who normally vote for the Democratic party show up because the Republican primary is competitive, perhaps? It’s difficult to know. So campaigning is a much more difficult task than it was 10 and 20, 30 years ago,” Cooper said.
If you’re a candidate you can’t campaign in an echo chamber.
“I think it means a lot. You can’t win the general without the unaffiliated and I think to make things even more confusing for candidates is the primary. So let’s pretend you’re running for the United States Senate right now. You’re trying to figure out who’s going to show up in the Republican primary. Who knows,” Cooper said.