Hillary Clinton is about to close her campaign on the campus of N.C. State. If she loses Ohio, but wins the presidency through North Carolina, you can expect us to be a swing-state for years to come.
We’ll know Tuesday night just how much the demographics have changed, if the Obama coalition shows up when he’s not on the ballot, and which party ends up on the losing end of an ever-increasing rural-urban divide.
If Roy Cooper wins and Deborah Ross defeats Richard Burr, North Carolina’s not far behind Virginia in turning blue. If Burr wins or McCrory survives, we’re still purple.
In the long-term, Democrats will need working-class whites to win back the General Assembly and Republicans will need minorities to remain competitive statewide, but depending on the results Tuesday those will become priorities.
A solid win for Cooper and the defeat of a veto-proof majority for Republicans will bring the era of McCrory to an end – and, hopefully, launch an era of moderation and compromise. A McCrory victory will mean continued GOP transformation of the Tar Heel State, unabated.
If Burr wins, Republicans are in a strong position to hold onto the senate, and a Republican senate will keep a seat open on the Supreme Court. And if Burr wins, he’ll be the longest serving senator from North Carolina since Jesse Helms. If Ross wins, she’ll have the skills and intellect to be a star in Washington. And she’ll signify just how much the south’s changed, and the Democratic Party’s changed, by winning Sam Ervin’s seat.
Down-ballot, keep an eye on the contest for lieutenant governor. If Dan Forest wins – especially if he survives a wave that defeats McCrory – he’ll end up his party’s heir apparent in Raleigh. If he loses, his party will be left with a leadership vacuum to run for the big-ticket races.
If Josh Stein, Charles Meeker and Dan Blue III win their races for attorney general, commissioner of labor and state treasurer, the Democrats will have a strong bench to go along with their military veterans Jeff Jackson, Cal Cunningham and Grier Martin.
North Carolina’s congressional races shouldn’t be too competitive (because of redistricting) unless Hillary Clinton wins the state by more than four – and even then Democrats lack compelling challengers outside of our own Thomas Mills. But I’ll be watching NC-9 to see if Pittenger is vulnerable going forward, and NC-13 to see if it’s a potential pick-up for Democrats in the future.
In races for the state legislature, I’ll be looking at senate district 17 (Barringer vs. Evans) to see how much this cycle has changed the politics of Wake, and how much Chaz Beasley wins by in house district 19 as an indication of the changed politics of Mecklenburg County. In addition to Beasley, Democrats will have another rising star if Andrew Barnhill unseats Michael Lee in Wilmington.
And of course, the race between Justice Bob Edmunds and Judge Mike Morgan will determine who controls North Carolina’s Supreme Court. Outside of the governor’s race, it’s the most important on the ballot.
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