Mike Robinson has conceded to Justice Cheri Beasley in the one Supreme Court race that was still outstanding. The final margin was 0.22%. Although Election Night was pretty good to Republicans in North Carolina, the losses in these Supreme Court races have to hurt. Sure, they picked up one seat on the Court of Appeals, but the Supreme Court is the big game.

If Democrats are ever going to take back power in NC, it’s probably going to be by obstructing the GOP agenda through the courts. There’s also the possibility that taking back the judicial branch will lead to the 2011 redistricting maps getting tossed. Right now the GOP still maintains a 1-seat majority on the Court, but there were three competitive races this time around and they went 0-3.

The least surprising of these was Sam Ervin’s defeat of Bob Hunter. The Ervin name is still golden in some parts of NC and Hunter was the underdog from the start. But the reelection of registered Democrats Hudson and Beasley have to hurt. The GOP will mainly be on defense in Supreme Court races for the rest of the decade, and the net loss of one seat in this cycle means there’s not going to be a whole lot of room for error for them going forward.

Why did the GOP lose? Interestingly, the repeal of straight-ticket voting may have harmed their chances in the Court races. Democrats who would have in the past marked “straight Democratic” and then gone home stuck around for the judicial races at the bottom of the ballot. But that can’t be the only reason, and the GOP needs to figure out what went wrong. My theory? Beasley and Hudson benefited from voters identifying them as female from their names. And there’s certainly other factors as well.

The most disheartening thing in all this? Robinson lost despite using almost the same “banjo” ad as Paul Newby did in 2012, along with a catchy “I Like Mike” song. A shame.

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