North Carolina

By Kinsey Sullivan

North Carolina has 15 electoral votes in 2012 election, and the fight for those votes has remained tight to campaign’s end. Those votes are critical for either candidate to win, but especially for Romney who needs a stronger Southern base to reach 270 electoral college votes.

North Carolina has a history of close elections. Since the disintegration of the Solid South in the mid-1960s, the state has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate only in 1976 and 2008.

Year Candidates (D/R) % Votes for D. % Votes for R.

1984

Mondale/Reagan

37.9%

61.9%

1988

Dukakis/Bush

41.7%

58.0%

1992

Clinton/Bush

42.7%

43.4%

1996

Clinton/Dole

44.0%

48.7%

2000

Gore/Bush

43.2%

56.0%

2004

Kerry/Bush

43.6%

56.0%

2008

Obama/McCain

49.7%

49.4%

 

In the governor’s race,  North Carolina voters will choose between Republican Pat McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte, and Democrat candidate Walter Dalton, the incumbent lieutenant governor. Generally, polls have shown McCrory in the lead by 10 percentage points or more, even though historically the race for governor has been relatively close.

Every governor since 1992 has been a Democrat. If McCrory does win the election,  he’ll be the first Republican governor since the end of James Martin’s term in 1993. Gov. Bev Perdue is not seeking reelection. As with the national elections, the governor’s race presents voters a choice between candidates with contrasting views on the role and substance of government.

Elections for North Carolina’s General Assembly occur every even-numbered year, so all the seats will be voted on in November —  50 in Senate and 120 in the House.  The election of 2010 saw a turnover from a Democratic to a Republican majority in both chambers, with 31 Republicans in the Senate and 67 in the House.

The GOP-majority in the legislature approved redistricting plans that favor a continuation of the Republican majority in the General Assembly, and give Republicans an opportunity to gain seats in the U.S. House. There is no race for the U.S. Senate this year.

 

The General Political Atmosphere

In North Carolina, the political atmosphere is polarized and even tense. With voter approval exceptionally low for both Governor Perdue and for the General Assembly, North Carolinians will go to the polls also restive over the slow recovery for a recession that sent unemployment above the national rate.

There’s been a lot of growth in the Latino community. After the 2000 Census, just under 5 percent of the population was Latino. The 2010 Census shows a jump in Latinos to almost 9 percent of the state population. More than double the number of Latinos are registered to vote in 2012 than were in 2008, but with around 100,000 Latino voter, registration is still relatively sparse in a state with more than 6.6 million registered voters.

 

Press and Blogs

The main political blogs in North Carolina are linked to newspapers, though there are some from influential policy centers. The News and Observer’s political blog, Under the Dome, showcases statewide trends and development: http://projects.newsobserver.com/dome. The Star News’ political blog, the Cape Fear Watchdogs, has a local slant: http://watchdogs.blogs.starnewsonline.com/. WRAL-TV has a website with a section that focuses on North Carolina politics: www.wral.com

The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research offers an abundance of  non-partisan information and analysis:  http://www.nccppr.org/drupal/. The Talking About Politics  blog presents analyses veterans political operative from both major parties, Democrat Gary Pearce and Republican Carter Wrenn: www.talkingaboutpolitics.com

The John Locke Foundation (http://www.johnlocke.org) and its Carolina Journal Online offer conservative voices, as does its cousin, Civitas Review: http://www.civitasreview.com/. On the progressive side of politics, Blue NC is a major source (http://www.bluenc.com), as is North Carolina Policy Watch: www.ncpolicywatch.com. The North Carolina Public Interest Research Group showcases consumer/voter awareness issues (http://www.ncpirg.org).