President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney are going down to the wire in North Carolina, according to a poll released Monday from in-state institution Elon University. But the numbers also show a large advantage for Democrats in early voting and upwards movement in enthusiasm for their side.
Obama gets 45.4 percent to Romney’s 45.3 percent, as both candidates have shored up their bases and Romney leads among non-leaning independent voters by double digits. Democrats have a voter registration registration advantage in the state of about 800,000, which makes up for Obama’s deficit with unaffiliated voters.
Romney has been trending up in the state and the last poll from Elon conducted in August showed the former Massachusetts governor up 4.2 percent. But Obama leads by a massive 18 points among early voters, 1.5 million of which have already cast ballots, according to an analysis from George Washington University. Romney leads 48 percent to Obama’s 43 percent among North Carolinians who plan to vote on Election Day.
Overall, Romney still leads the PollTracker Average of the race for North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes and the majority of polling has shown him ahead there.
But Elon pollsters also pointed to another element besides early voting that could favor Obama: an increase in enthusiasm among his key demographic groups, closing the gap with Republicans. From their analysis:
Likely voters seem excited about the upcoming presidential election. The Elon University Poll found that approximately 74% of likely voters said they were somewhat or very excited about the election (up slightly from 70% in August). That excitement was fairly even across men and women, across Democrats and Republicans, and across supporters of both candidates.
Although the youth vote is difficult to gauge because this group tends to be underrepresented in likely voter surveys, results from this survey suggest their excitement is beginning to pick up. In our representative sample, young voters (18-30 years old) are much more likely to vote for Barack Obama, while Romney has an advantage with voters over 40 years of age.
Race remains an important predictor of both vote choice and turnout. Approximately 21.5% of likely voters were African-American and this group was seen as having higher levels of excitement than whites. In a prior survey, the Elon University Poll found almost half of all Blacks said they were very excited about the upcoming election. This recent survey finds an increase in African-American enthusiasm with over 61% saying they are very excited about the election. African-American support for Obama remains stable with approximately 88 % of Blacks saying they have voted or will vote for the President (compared to 89 % in an Elon University Poll conducted in August).
The Elon poll used 1,238 live telephone interviews with likely North Carolina voters by landline and cell phone conducted Oct. 21-26. It has a sampling error of 2.8 percent.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.