Friday, August 28, 2020

Race of the Day- North Carolina Governor

North Carolina Governor

67 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

Democrat Roy Cooper is seeking a second term as North Carolina's Governor and according to the polls and conventional wisdom is a heavy favorite to do so. I sometimes wonder theoretically what would have happened if somehow Cooper was his party's nominee for President and had the "progressive wing" united behind him. Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump, though not without some recent angst. I happen to think that Cooper would be ahead of Trump by a nearly insurmountable margin. Nonetheless, there is not any evidence that Cooper gave any thought at all towards a Presidential run or ever will. The chance for a white male Southern Governor who could be perceived as a "moderate" leading the party seem to be way gone.

Cooper served as the Attorney General of his state for 16 years, being repeatedly reelected, but passing up opportunities and the wishes of his party to seek to a higher office. That would change four years ago though when first term GOP Governor Pat McCrory, a rare Republican to hold that office in recent decades, found himself and his party vulnerable over state government issues. Still, the state leans conservative and was carried. albeit by a somewhat small margin, by Donald Trump. The race for Governor was even closer, and bitterly contested after the fact. A partial recount showed that the end result was a victory for the Democrat by less than 11, 000 votes statewide. McCrory would not concede until December. Afterwards, the GOP legislative majority tried to change laws to limit the powers of the new Governor.

As Governor, Cooper has continued to clash with the legislature, but has seemingly kept the public on his side. Some have suggested that he has moved considerably to the left in the office, but North Carolina itself is becoming less solidly red, as residents from places beyond the south relocate there.

This is a rare election that will feature a Governor fighting for his job against a Lt. Governor. In North Carolina, the offices are elected separately. An architect by trade, Republican Dan Forest is finishing his second term as  the number two official in the state. His winning margins in those races was fairly modest, but still larger than the percent Cooper received in the Gubernatorial race. However, Cooper won by very large margins as Attorney General and in one race was even unopposed.

Interestingly enough, Forest won the March primary for Governor by a slightly larger margin than Cooper won his renomination. Perhaps that has to do with a lot of registered Democrats in the state who have voted conservative for years now, wanting to oppose the Governor. Also, the little known opponent in the primary against Cooper was African-American and that could have played a part. Cooper won with 87 percent while Forest won with 89 percent against a conservative female State Representative who played up her time in the military.

Political watchers are anticipating a very close Presidential contest in the state as well as one of the most hotly contested Senate elections in the country. That means the race for Governor is not the political highlight of the season. In theory, Forest should be very competitive in a southern state with many Republicans. There will be some straight ticket voting, but the polls are showing Cooper with a fairly clear lead, and usually above the 50 percent mark. Occasionally, a poll will come out showing a closer race, giving hopes to Republicans. Most likely though, Cooper will win a second term, on the heels of the votes of some Trump supporters as well.

Governor races predicted thus far: 
2 D (2 Likely)
4 R (2 Likely, 2 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

22 Democrats (20 holdovers, 2 Likely)
23 Republicans (19 holdovers, 2 Likely, 2 Lean)


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