From WSJ's Washington Wire:
Nearly half a million North Carolina voters have already cast their ballots, either with a mail-in absentee ballot or by casting one in person.
That means nothing Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, say or do between now and Election Day can change the choice made by about 9% of the state’s 5.5 million registered voters.
The enthusiasm has been fueled by the campaigns as well as North Carolina’s program allowing residents to register and vote during its “One Stop Absentee Voting” period, which began Oct. 16 and ends Nov. 1.
And there are some clear trends emerging:
• Most early voters, 84%, chose to vote in person rather than by absentee ballot.
• Between Thursday, when one-stop voting started, and Monday, 95% of ballots were cast in person.
• Of those voting in person, registered Democrats accounted for 61%, Republicans accounted for 22%, and 17% had no affiliation or were registered with an alternative party. That indicates a big advantage for Obama in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
• Democrats accounted for 29% of mail-in ballots while Republicans accounted for 54%.
• The absentee ballots include 3,400 cast by U.S. servicemen serving overseas. They are fairly evenly split between Democrats, 36%, and Republicans, 38%. About 17% have no affiliation or are registered or with an alternative party.
The key take from this is in the bullet point above, showing 61% of all in person early voters were Democrat, compared to 22% Republican.
If this were election night, the networks would already be saying, with 9% of the votes counted, Obama leads McCain by 61% to 39% (or something like that). That's a huge early lead.