by: Andrew Doud Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Nearly 2 million people have cast their vote early in North Carolina, and experts predict that number will increase in the final stretch.
In 2008, early voting helped propel Barack Obama to the White House.
"I think this has become a whole new ballgame. This (early voting) is going to become the new norm here in North Carolina," said political expert Michael Bitzer.
Compared to this time last election season, more than 165,000 more votes have been cast early.
Bitzer said it’s on pace to top early voter turnout in 2008.
If history repeats itself, the winner of the early vote could win the state.
"In 2008, President Obama won the early voting by over 300,000 votes, but he actually lost on Election Day by 295,000. That means he only won by 14,000 votes,” Bitzer said.
So far this year, around half of all early voters have been registered Democrats, and a little more than 30 percent have been Republicans.
"I'm curious how those numbers will play out and potentially affect the election,” voter Michael Tam said.
Voters are also watching to see what impact Sandy will have on the race.
"I think it will impact it a lot for the states that obviously don't have power and people are obviously more concerned with their well-being," Rachael Little said.
Bitzer said the storm will have a minimal impact on the outcome in North Carolina, and New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania don't have early voting like our state.
Early voting ends Saturday.