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North Carolina has primarily been looked at as a Democratic state over the years. However, in 1968 there was a large shift from Democratic to Republican hands. According to 270 to Win, “The initial shift was largely in response to white conservative voter uneasiness with the civil rights legislation passed in the mid-1960s, which was effectively exploited by the Republicans southern strategy.” North Carolina has voted Republican in the past nine of the last ten presidential elections- the one exception being Barack Obama in the 2008 election. In 2008, Obama was able to push aside all of the Democrats who told him to, as Kromm in Facing South would say, “write off the South,” and ultimately win North Carolina. According to Kromm in Facing South, “By the time McCain realized the trouble he was in and fought back to defend the state, it was too late.” Moving forward to the 2016 election, Trump was able to take North Carolina and continue with the Republican dominance.
The Democratic and Republican primary for North Carolina were held on March 15th, 2016. In North Carolina, registered members of each party only voted in their party’s primary, while voters who were unaffiliated chose any one primary in which to vote. On the Democratic side it was Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton. However, on the Republican side there was much more competition with the candidates who were left being Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. However, the real fight in North Carolina for the Republicans was going to be between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. In the North Carolina 2016 primary, Donald Trump was ultimately the winner for the Republican party and Hillary Clinton was the winner for the Democratic party. A lot went in to both of these victories, things such as the bible belt, ethnic breakdown of voters, evangelicals, college graduates versus non college graduates, and the black vote. All of these crucial subjects played such a large role in determining the outcome of each primary.
The Republican polling for the primary had Trump leading for North Carolina. According to WRAL-TV/ SurveyUSA poll conducted the week before the primary: “Trump tops U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas 41 percent to 27 percent among likely GOP voters. However, the Republican fight for North Carolina was interesting for many reasons, one major one being that towards the beginning of the race Ted Cruz was thought to have North Carolina in the bag due to him having so much success with the evangelicals along the bible belt. However, according to figure 1, out of the exit poll voters who answered yes to being a born-again or Evangelical Christian, Cruz came away with 45% while Trump took 40%. This was surprising to many because it was actually pretty even between Cruz and Trump. According to John Taylor, “pragmatism is behind much of the shift”. Taylor says that evangelicals made their piece with Trump and that they decided to turn the other cheek on certain social issues or personal issues of Trump because they were more interested in the ultimate victory, rather than getting everything on their checklist. Donald Trump ultimately won the Republican primary for North Carolina with 462,413 votes and 40.23%. Ted Cruz came in second with 422,621 votes and 36.76%. The results were similar to the polls conducted prior to the republican primary- Trumps was spot on while Cruz was about 6% off.
The Democratic competition for North Carolina was different from the Republican fight but just as close. According to WRAL-TV/SurveyUSA poll conducted the week before the primary:” Clinton holds a commanding lead of 57 to 34 percent among likely Democratic voters over U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. From the beginning, Hillary Clinton was clearly going after the black vote, which is what caused Obama to take North Carolina in the 2008 election, while Sanders was looking towards millennials for the push to victory. According to figure 2, there was a huge correlation between where there was more black population and where Clinton won most of her votes. North Carolina’s registered Republicans are overwhelmingly white, while the Democrats there are much more likely to be black. According to UNC Demography, forty-six percent of Democratic voters in North Carolina are black compared to 22% of the electorate overall. There is also a strong tie between Obama’s voters from 2008 and Clinton’s voters from 2016, as shown in figure 3. According to NBC News, 49% of Clintons’ voters in the North Carolina primary were white and 46% of her voters were black. Clinton went into the North Carolina primary trying to get the Obama voters to vote for her, that was her focus in this state.
The main difference in between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was their messages and the reasons behind their candidacy. Sander’s message was all about having more fairness all the way around, he didn’t mock the wealthy but he did preach more equality, he essentially blamed the Hillary Clintons of the world. Bernie Sanders targeted millennials with his goals, with things like single-payer health care, free public college, campaign finance reform, racial, economic and climate justice. According to figure 4, between Clinton and Sanders, Sanders took 72% of voters ages 17-29, while Clinton walked away with only about 28%. According to NBC News, these millennials were close to a third of all his voter turnout. Hillary Clinton ended up taking the Democratic primary for North Carolina with 616,757 votes and 54.59%. Bernie Sanders came up second with 460,434 votes and 40.75%. The results were similar to the polls conducted prior to the primary. Hillary was predicted to lead 57% compared to Sanders at 34% and the actual results were Hillary 54.6% and Sanders 40.8%. Hillary’s was spot on while Sanders was almost 7% off.
The 2016 presidential election in North Carolina was won by Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, who would later become president of the United States, as a part of the general election. The state chose 15 electors to represent Trump at the Electoral College. The state had originally been a Republican household until former President Barack Obama’s win in 2008, however, it was lost to former candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 and has been reverted back to its red colored hue with Trump’s victory. In the 2016 election, North Carolina became what Ohio was four years ago – the state considered such a tossup and so critical to winning the key to the White House that the presidential candidates practically camped out there.
Donald J. Trump had won North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes; the state of North Carolina was a full sea of Republican red as President Trump carried all of the suburban and rural counties outside the state’s big cities, including some that President Barack Obama won in 2012. This tactic was also speculated to be used with Mitt Romney as a large portion of the state’s elderly and more conservative population reside in the non-urban areas. Between the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the presidential contenders made a total of 29 visits to the swing state. They stepped up in their appearances in weeks leading up to voting day as a record number of North Carolinians – more than three million – took advantage of the opportunity to vote early.
Similar to former President Obama’s win in the predominantly red state of Virginia in 2008 and 2012, the Clinton campaign took note of the educated, diverse, young adults in northern part of the state and made it her key demographic. The former secretary of state and her all-star team of surrogates that included the former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at college campuses and African-American churches in the New South cities of Charlotte, Raleigh and Winston-Salem. Clinton, herself, rallied at Wake Tech Community College, focusing on enacting government-subsidized tuition-free college. Later during the week, Clinton’s daughter stopped by Eastern Carolina University, focusing on the issue of college debt and how future government programs will work to lessen the debt. Keeping her organizers and campaign partners near historically African-American dominated campuses allowed her to gain popularity with that demographic as the African-American population made up 22% of North Carolina’s own population. Their demographic however, resided mainly in the urban areas, therefore, their vote in the long run compared to the rural areas Trump dominated could not ensure Clinton’s victory in this swing-state.
Trump was viewed to dominate Clinton amongst the conservative democrats who reside in the predominately white and older population of the North Carolina cities. Him and his campaign staged some of his rallies in places like Concord, Selma in eastern North Carolina and the mountain town of Fletcher; all places with a recorded predominately white and older population. Having made more than 12 visits to the state and visiting multiple cities in one day, Trump had ultimately covered more ground than Clinton in terms of influence. It was shown as well when with each rally, he drew large crowds of white working class voters angry at the loss of manufacturing jobs and eager to give him the chance to steer their country in a more conservative direction and deliver on his promise to “Make America Great Again.” Trump’s campaign also sent in surrogates, including the candidate’s daughter Ivanka and his son Eric.
North Carolina has been a crucial state in the presidential election with its demanding fifteen electoral votes. In the past, the Tar Heel State, has been known to be a state that is always up for grab in the general elections. Within the past three elections, it has been a close win for each party. In 2008, Barack Obama had a close win over the state with a 49.7% to 49.4% victory. However, in 2012, Obama lost the state to a 50.4% republican votes. Finally, in 2016, President Donald Trump won the state by a close 49.8% victory over the 46.2% democratic votes (270 To Win). Comparing North Carolina’s results of the 2016 election doesn’t surprise many people if you compare them to the results of the other swing states. Although, in the beginning of the election, or better yet, the start of election night, Clinton had a slight edge over her competition, the ending results will not surprise the viewer that only compares the outcomes to those of the states with a similar voting situation. Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida and Wisconsin are some states that make America wait until the end of election night to determine whether it will be colored in either red or blue, similar to North Carolina. Referencing the list above, in the 2012 previous election, only North Carolina, and Florida voted Republican in favor of Mitt Romney over Barack Obama (Politico). Thus in 2012, North Carolina was very different from the other states that tend to be referred to as swing states. However, in the 2016 election, North Carolina seemed to fit in this time around with the other states. Unlike the 2012 election, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa turned their blue state red in favor of President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
Over the past 20 years, it is safe to assume that in each upcoming election North Carolina will be a wild card and the winner of the state will win this state by a very slim percentage over its competition. From 1960-2016 North Carolina has changed their general ideologically a total of about 5 times. Starting from 1960, North Carolina has been a democratic state with John F. Kennedy in the office as commander in chief. Lasting about two elections, NC changed parties when President Nixon took all 13 of Carolina’s electoral votes away from the democratic party. Eventually, in 1976, President Jimmy Carter took back North Carolina for the democrats, which will stay democratic for only 2 terms when President George H.W Bush takes republican control over the state once again. This republican control will main true for a couple general election cycles until President Obama joins the Presidential race in 2008. However, the very next election, Mitt Romney will take back North Carolina from the Democrats and President Trump will stay in control of this state in the 2016 election. Therefore, to answer the question of how similar or different the results in North Carolina were to elections in the past, there is no answer as every few election cycles the state changes its ideology. The cardinal bird state continues to follow its trend of unpredictability and will most likely change ideologies within the next few general elections.
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