What happened? Here’s a quick summary of what I think are the main highlights of last night. Let’s get right to it:

A narrow victory for Trump. The polls showed a big Trump win but I was always skeptical given his habit of underperforming his poll numbers and the strong Cruz support on the ground in North Carolina, but the narrowness of the margin was surprising. It looks like Cruz drew heavily from evangelicals and strategic anti-Trump voting.

A (relatively) narrow victory for Hillary. Probably the biggest surprise was how well Bernie Sanders did. What’s even more surprising is that he did not do well in some areas which were thought to be Sanders strongholds – the Research Triangle, in particular. Sanders won Orange County by less than 2%, all because of UNC students. High-income liberals in the Triangle backed Clinton.

McCrory romps. McCrory’s primary challenger did not make an impressive showing; the governor exceeded 80% of the vote. It’s possibly evidence that the toll issue in Mecklenburg County is not as big of a negative as some have speculated.

Burr vs. Ross Democrats hope to make this competitive with Donald Trump heading the Republican ticket. Burr defeated Tea Party insurgent Greg Brannon, who failed to replicate his 2014 showing. Ross had an impressive victory; it proves what money and establishment support does for a campaign in an anonymous field.

Forest vs. Coleman Linda Coleman won the Democratic Lieutenant Governor primary, so it’s going to be a rematch of the 2012 race. Coleman has strengths and weaknesses as a candidate, Forest starts off as the (very slight) early favorite.

Newton vs. Stein For Attorney General, we have a Newton vs. Stein race. Stein’s race was much closer than most people expected; he only won 53% of the vote despite being the clear favorite of the Democratic establishment.

Conservative challenges fail. Several legislators received formidable challenges from the Right, but most of them prevailed. Notably, Rep. Nelson Dollar defeated Mark Villee in his Wake County district. A major upset looks to have been avoided with anti-toll candidate Tom Davis failing to unseat Rep. Charles Jeter in Mecklenburg County. It looks like Jeter won by 28 votes.

Bond passes easily. No surprises there. The lack of a well-funded opposition pretty much guaranteed that it would pass.

Grange vs. Covil This race for a New Hanover County-based House District was the nastiest Republican primary in the state. Tammy Covil, the anti-establishment candidate, attacked Holly Grange’s connection to Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal and Benghazi. The attacks didn’t work; Grange won in a landslide.

First Indian American in General Assembly? The race to replace Josh Stein in the NC Senate was won, at least on the Democratic side, by former Treasury official Jay Chaudhuri. Chaudhuri is almost certain to become the first Indian American to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly.


  1. Ken Brame

    Who won the Grange vs. Covil race?

    • John Wynne

      Grange won – I edited the post to make that more clear!

  2. Keith

    John, I appreciate your analysis but I think it is possible that people were tired of watching the NC GA systematically harm public education (at all levels) across the state. They decided they had an opportunity to do something good on their own even if only for selected parts of the system (all that is possible with a bond package). Given the significant drops (per student) in operational funding provided by the state, it would have been ethically difficult to put on the campaign against the bonds you observe was missing.

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