Can the Undervote Decide the Election

| October 18, 2012

by Doug Raymond

In Presidential Elections, great effort is made to try to identify the voting group that will ‘make the difference’ between victory and defeat.  This year, the race in North Carolina could be decided by a group that might surprise you: the “Uninformed Straight Party Voter”.

Please don’t assume that I am talking about their knowledge of issues or the Party platform.  In reality, I’m talking about voters lack of understanding of how straight party voting works in North Carolina.

North Carolina is the only state in the nation where a straight party vote does not include a vote for President.  This esoteric law was put in place in 1967 amid the political backdrop of very conservative Southern Democrats who shared little in common with the increasingly liberal Presidential candidates at the top of their ticket.   This created a confusing ballot that saw unusually high undervotes for President.

In North Carolina’s last presidential election,  Barack Obama defeated John McCain by just under 14,000 votes.   Amazingly, there were over 48,000 undervotes.  Obama’s ground team did an excellent job of educating voters on this anomaly, and over a million dollars spent on voter education appeared to pay dividends.

If we believe the pundits who say the road to the White House this year goes through North Carolina, the candidate or Party that does the best job of explaining this arcane way of voting may have an inside track in what appears to be a very close race where every vote counts.

Doug Raymond owns and operates Campaign General, a political consulting company

Category: NC SPIN Perspectives - Opinions from NC Leaders & Organizations

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