Five Takeaways From North Carolina’s 2020 Election
The stakes were high and emotions super-charged for the 2020 race. Elections officials explained how this unusual pandemic election was unfolding and why they were taking the actions that they did. Still, as Election Day loomed, many people worried that emotions would spill over to intimidation and violence. That didn’t happen on the kind of wide-scale level that some feared. In many ways, it was a typical Election Day with its usual hiccups.
1. No one can swing like our swing state.
All election nights are a rollercoaster, but this one was like strapping a space shuttle engine to a John Deere and blasting a path across the twisting, plummeting roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway. When the early voting total came in, it looked like it was going to be a GOP bloodbath. The only chance for Republicans was to make huge gains through Election Day totals, which is exactly what they did, not only catching up but in some cases taking the lead. Aha! Red wave ahead! But again, hang on there. The state, as of this morning, had about 200,000 uncounted absentee ballots, which have tended to favor Democrats. The end result is several key races are simply too close to be called at this point.
2. Still, if you’re a Republican you have to be happy.
The 2018 election was a true blue wave in the Tar Heel state. As it turns out, it was not a harbinger of things to come. GOP incumbents did very well this election and the purple status of our state remains.
3. Republican lawmakers, the cartographer's pen is yours.
Every Census year North Carolina gives the power of redistricting to the General Assembly. When they took control in 2010, the GOP wielded it with such force that mapmakers spent much of the decade explaining what they did to skeptical federal judges who frequently threw the maps out for being overly gerrymandered. Democrats needed to pick up seats in the House and Senate to take control this year, and that didn’t happen. So that power remains with many of the folks who drew the maps that got us to where we are today.
4. North Carolina seems to like Triad candidates.
Among the apparent statewide council of state winners were Guilford County’s Steve Troxler (agriculture), Mark Robinson (lieutenant governor), and Forsyth County's Dale Follwell (treasurer). The state attorney general’s race that includes Forsyth District Attorney Jim O’Neill is too close to call.
5. A Biden win here would be a historic shift.
Again, the race is too close to call but a Biden win remains a possibility. A Trump loss would really buck recent history. Over the last 50 years, North Carolina has turned back only one GOP incumbent in a presidential race — Gerald Ford in 1976. Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush all carried the state in their reelection bids, although the elder Bush won by the slimmest of margins. During that same time, no Democrats were able to accomplish that feat. Carter, Clinton, and Obama lost North Carolina on their second go-rounds, though both Clinton and Obama ended up winning nationally.