Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Race of the Day- North Carolina Governor

68 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

While this race is far from over, the recent trend in the Tar Heel State is signaling that Democrats might take back the Governorship.  I hope to be incorrect, but North Carolina is more hospitable to Democrats in Presidential election years, with a larger turnout of minorities and college students, and the state is seemingly becoming less "southern" each election cycle.

In spit of this, Republican Pat McCrory won the Governorship in 2012, as Mitt Romney also took what was perhaps his lone battleground state victory in the Presidential race. It was McCrory's second shot at the Governorship, and he became the first Republican to win the office in 24 years. With new Republican dominance of state government, McCrory and his allies in the legislature embarked on an ambitious conservative agenda, but one that proved to be controversial in some regards. The GOP managed to have a strong 2014 midterm, beating an incumbent Democrat Senator, but McCrory was expected to have a tight race for reelection.

Several Democrats were mentioned as potential opponents and rumors of a primary challenge to the incumbent Republican also were present. McCrory easily won a March primary with over 80 percent of the vote, but Democrats had long since united behind their strongest potential candidate, who embarked on a run for Governor, after having passed on some other opportunities. Roy Cooper has been North Carolina's Attorney General since 2001 and has been a proven statewide vote-getter. In the primary, he easily beat an African-American, former State Representative, capturing nearly 70 percent of the vote.

There have been several polls on this race since the primaries, with North Carolina based PPP, a proudly partisan Democrat firm doing monthly surveys, and the race between McCrory and Cooper has looked close. The Republican leaning Civitas polling outfit has also gotten in on the action. In many results, McCrory held a slight lead, but with enough undecideds to be of concern for an incumbent. More recently, some independent polling on this race has Cooper now in the lead, and slightly over 50 percent. If that is accurate at this point, the race clearly leans in his favor and McCrory has his work cut out for him.

As a former Mayor of Charlotte, and someone with a reputation as a pro-business moderate Republican, Governor McCrory would seem to be a good fit for the state and it's swing voters. His Administration has become a lightning rod over social issues such as abortion and transgender bathroom rights. There has been much talk about Hose Bill 2 that requires people to use restrooms associated with the gender on their birth certificate. I think this is a somewhat complex yet overhyped issue and that a middle ground could likely be found. Instead, the state has been fighting about it a great deal and it has made international headlines with talk of boycotts. Already, the NBA All-Star Game pulled out of it's scheduled turn in Charlotte next year, which many in the state consider an embarrassment and unnecessary economic loss.

At this point, McCrory still has the potential to win a close race, but the battle lines are so clearly drawn between the parties and the candidates over issues such as voter ID laws and public restrooms, McCrory's best bet is to stand his ground and hope his base is large enough. I do think Cooper's position on the bathroom issue has the potential of making him look fairly far out to the left, and he would likely prefer to focus on issues such as the economy or education. As in most states, Donald Trump is probably not a help to anybody who shares a ticket with him, and he himself has basically criticized North Carolina Republicans on the bathroom thing.

North Carolina is expected to have several close races in November, up and down the ballot. It remains to be seen if the one for Governor will be among the closest, but if it is not, that is probably bad news for Republicans' ability to hold on to an office that has historically alluded them.

McCrory campaign link:

Governor races predicted thus far: 6 D (1 Safe, 3 Leans, 2 Tossup) 0 R
Overall predicted thus far: 17 D, 27R


Post a Comment

<< Home