Updated 2:17 p.m., September 14, 2017
Registered unaffiliated voters now outnumber Republican voters in North Carolina for the first time.
The state Board of Elections data show there are 2,018 more unaffiliated voters than Republican voters in North Carolina, as of Thursday afternoon.
In all, the most recent state data show 2,058,678 unaffiliated voters; 2,056,660 Republican voters; and 2,641,947 Democratic voters.
Catawba College Political Science Professor Michael Bitzer says millennial voters born after 1981 account for that rise.
"It doesn't necessarily mean that they are partisan independents,” he said. “I think there are a lot of issues associated with being unaffiliated but for the most part these folks are partisan in their voting.”
Bitzer said the rise of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina mirrors a national trend, adding that the generational shift will be played out over the next few election cycles in North Carolina.
Polls show millennial voters tend to lean politically center-left as opposed to Baby Boomers who lean center-right, Bitzer said.
"I think that kind of tectonic shift going on in North Carolina's politics is really going to be played out over the next couple of election cycles as millennials continue to build their numbers and Baby Boomers start to generationally exit the political scene,” he said.