These data leave no question about whether voter ID laws have a disparate impact on non-white voters. In that sense, Democratic fears and Republican hopes are confirmed. But the North Carolina data also suggests that voter ID laws are unlikely to flip the outcome of a national election, even if it does have an objectionable, disparate impact on non-white and Democratic-leaning voters. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t play a role in a close election—and close elections do happen. But Republicans expecting to flip Pennsylvania or Democrats fearing that Republicans will steal elections with voter ID should be circumspect about the comparatively modest electoral consequences. Many of the registered voters without a photo ID just aren’t voting and 40 percent of them are probably voting Republican. If you want voter ID because you think you’ll steal Pennsylvania, or you’re opposed because you’re concerned it’s a Democratic apocalypse, move on. It’s not the apocalypse, even if it is an affront to voting rights.
That’s pretty much the conclusion I drew last year in The Voting Wars. What’s missing from this analysis is the role that the voter id debate plays on both sides in driving up turnout and spurring fundraising.