Why McCrory Lost (?), Visualized

by | Nov 29, 2016 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features, NC Politics, NCGov | 11 comments

This map, comparing Pat McCrory’s performance with that of Donald Trump in North Carolina, tells you all you need to know about why Roy Cooper could be the next governor. It’s simple: Blue Dog Democrats out west came out for Trump, and then they voted for Cooper. The BLUE counties are where Trump/Cooper carried the day. The RED counties are where McCrory did better than Trump. The shading is in intervals of 5%, based on the difference between the margin for Trump and the margin for McCrory.

McCrory most underperformed Trump in Graham County, a very rural, isolated county in the North Carolina Mountains. In the rest of Appalachia, there was a similar story: McCrory underperformed Trump, by large margins. Trump-Cooper was definitely a thing, and McCrory owes his loss to those ticket-splitters.

Down East, the story was different. Perhaps because of McCrory’s stellar performance following Hurricane Matthew, voters there gave the governor a thumbs-up. Interestingly, McCrory’s strongest performance over Trump was concentrated in Black Belt counties. Could it be that the governor received a higher than usual percentage of the vote among African Americans, or did voters in these same counties vote for President and leave the rest of the ballot blank? It’s hard to say, but McCrory’s strongest performance compared to Trump was in Bertie County, the county with the highest percentage of African Americans in the state. McCrory probably owes much of his success there to Hurricane Matthew.

McCrory also outperformed Trump in his home county of Mecklenburg, but not enough to pull off a statewide win. And in the suburban counties around Mecklenburg, he failed to win the support of Trump supporters, especially in Iredell County, ground zero for the debate over tolls.

There were also a fair amount of McCrory-but-not-Trump voters in the Research Triangle counties of Orange and Durham, but the governor underperformed Trump in Wake County – again, rural voters appear to be responsible. Finally, McCrory lagged in the counties in the Wilmington area, losing New Hanover County in the process, again a bellwether county this year.

The governor’s race still isn’t over yet but if Cooper ekes out a victory, it’s because he did just well enough among the Blue Dog Democrat cohort, particularly out west, to win. This, combined with suburban backlash to HB 2 and other legislation, is why McCrory is now down pending a recount. Roy Cooper can credit Trump voters for his victory.


  1. Paul Patriot

    The Democratic platform is about pro homosexuality, anti-gun, pro abortion, and pro-islam, political correctness, and hostile to our Christian heritage and 2nd Amendment, and is all about more regulation and police state mentality.

    I am shocked that NC would elect a democrat governor. I have lived in and moved from 2 states controlled by the liberal progressive democratic platform, to the great state of North Carolina, thinking I was leaving that behind.

    I am not condemning Governor before he has a chance , but am telling you from past experience, democrats consistently conform to a certain worldview and ideological mind set in how they view the Constitution, how they view our Judeao/Christian heritage, moral absolutes, history, the Bill Of Rights, abortion, globalism and generally seem antagonistic towards the values and ideals that have made this nation a nation of free people…a nation that has been a beacon of hope and opportunity and liberty the world over.

  2. Chris S.

    “McCrory’s stellar performance during Hurricane Matthew?” And, you attribute McCrory outperforming Trump due to McCrory playing well with African-Americans due to hurricane relief. It’s a neat trick, giving the impression that McCrory played well in a county (Bertie) he lost handily, and poorly in a county (Graham) where we won by a wide margin. You frame it through McCrory rather than Trump. McCrory didn’t outperform Trump downeast so much as Trump underperformed McCrory because of his brazen racism. If you have any data to suggest that African-American voters downeast moved toward McCrory, produce it.

    • Spion

      It always boils down to race. What a stinkpot state I live in. Time to move out. Let you all continue to live the illusion.

  3. Mitchell H

    Where did this map come from and why are Orange and Durham red?

    • DavidB

      b/c McRory outperformed Trump in Durham and Orange Cty

  4. TY Thompson

    I don’t buy that HB2 amounted to anything, not when the rest of GOP fortunes held up nicely. And let’s face it, there were plenty of people predicting that the Reps might even lose the GA because of an HB2 backlash. Confederate descendants, commercial fishermen, Anti-toll road activists, angry grass roots Republicans blaming McCrory for Hassan Harnett’s ouster…..McCrory made enemies left and right among people who should have supported him and he paid for it.

    • DavidB

      No one ever predicted that Reps would lose the GA. And clearly HB 2 hurt McCrory. That’s what distinguished him from other R winners.

      • Charles L

        Especially because the other Republican to lose a statewide office was Buck Newton, who was strongly associated with HB2.

  5. Eric Smith

    This is super interesting. Thank you for this analysis. If it were not for Hurricane Matthew , Mr. McCrory would likely have gone down to a definitive defeat, which would have been good for the state and for our progressive tradition in both parties that is something that we should cherish. Pat should have upheld the integrity of the governor’s office as representing us all and not played toady for the General Assembly with its gerrymandered Republican legislators who can appeal to the retrogressive attitudes.

    • Evan

      This map simply shows that McCrory did better than Trump, not that McCrory did better than Cooper.

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