NORTH CAROLINA – With 60 days until the General Election, the first mail-in ballots went out to North Carolina voters Friday.

More than 640,000 people in the state have requested mail-in ballots so far for the November 3 election, according to the North Carolina Board of Elections. That’s compared to less than 40,000 for the same time four years ago.

Democrats accounted for more than half of those mail-in ballot requests, with 337,000, according to state data. More than 100,000 Republicans requested vote-by-mail ballots and about 200,000 registered independents.

The GOP is still confident Trump can win North Carolina. “We are the best and the baddest at turning out voters on election day,” said Carrie Tucker, deputy political director for the Republican National Committee.

“This is about turning out voters,” she said in an interview with Spectrum News 1.

The polls are close in North Carolina. A recent Fox News poll put Democratic nominee Joe Biden four points ahead of President Donald Trump in the state, with a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

The Biden campaign is working to flip North Carolina into the blue column in November. 

“North Carolina is first in the fight for the soul of our nation, and our advantage in voter registration and absentee ballot requests shows that North Carolinians are eager and energized for the leadership of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” said L.T. McCrimmon, the Biden campaign’s state director for North Carolina.

“North Carolina will play a pivotal role in this election and we have our eye on the prize; we’re hard at work engaging voters in every corner of the state,” she said.

Trump campaign senior advisor Josh Kivett said he thinks the “vast majority” of voters want to vote in person. But, he said, “We’re in the turnout business,” and that means however people want to vote in North Carolina: absentee, early in-person voting or at their polling place on election day.

“A vote in Asheville is the same as in Ahoskie,” and they all have the same weight when it comes to counting the ballots, Kivett said in an interview with Spectrum News 1.

“North Carolina is in play this year, but it is a must-win state for Trump. If Biden wins North Carolina, you can think of it as piercing Trump’s red wall,” Duke University public policy professor Pope McCorkle said in a recent Zoom call with reporters.

“I can boldly predict that if Biden wins North Carolina, you’re probably going to see Biden win a lot of other swing states, and it will probably be a signal that Biden has a big victory,” he said.

But John Aldrich, a political science professor at Duke, cautioned against watching the polls too closely this far out from the election. “Polls can provide us with a pretty good indication of where things stand at the moment,” he said.

“The big thing about this year compared to prior years is how dramatic the changes have been month to month and week to week and day to day. A poll taken today is relevant for today, if it’s a good poll. It’s not necessarily relevant for tomorrow, let alone next week or a couple months from now,” Adrich said in the call with reporters.