When Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia Moved to the Democratic side in the 2008 presidential election, this appeared to be the beginning of a long-lasting shift. A democratic party increasingly too University graduates and townspeople appeared with colored people definitely to win in countries with growth, well educated, racially different metropolises such as Charlotte, Denver, the Raleigh-Durham area, and the northern suburbs of Virginia outside of Washington, D.C.
That is exactly what happened in Colorado and Virginiawho have become reliable blue in most national elections. But not North Carolina. In November 2008, Barack Obama ran low won North Carolina (by less than 1 percentage point) and The US Senate Democratic candidate, Kay Hagan carried the state by 8 points. But the Democrats have not won a US Senate or President race there since then. 0 go for 7 if you count the losses of Joe Biden and Senate candidate Cal Cunningham in November.
Bear with Democrats Arizona and Georgia For the first time in decades, it’s worth thinking of North Carolina in the 2020 presidential election. Arizona and Georgia are also seeing big demographic changes – One or both states could be closest to Colorado or Virginia. But even if Democrats win one or both seats in the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s Georgia runoff election, North Carolina should remain a cautionary story for Democrats: States like Georgia that are becoming more urban, more educated, and less white don’t always become reliable parts from Blue America.
Why can’t North Carolina Democrats win?
The obvious explanation is that North Carolina electoral politics are still broad similar to the rest of the south. North Carolina has a pretty large black electorate – around 23 percent of voters compared to 12 percent across the country – that is mostly democratic. But non-Hispanic white voters still have a clear majority in North Carolina, as in the Rest of the southand tend to be more republican than in other Regions. Hillary Clinton, for example, lost white voters College education is far greater in North Carolina and other southern states than it was in 2016. This is in part because white voters in North Carolina and other southern states are more likely to be evangelical Protestants and have conservative attitudes toward racial issues compared to race issues white voters in other parts of the country.
Democrats consistently lose in all but three 16 states that the US Census Bureau is looking at the south (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia are the exceptions). In the context of US politics as a whole, it is not surprising that Democrats are fighting in a southern state where there is so much partisan and racial polarization that a federal appeals court in 2016 stated that North Carolina Republicans were restricting votersTarget African American with almost surgical precision. ”
And it’s not like the North Carolina Democrats won through and through in 2008. Obama won the state with 49.7 percent of the vote, only 0.32 points ahead of John McCain. Obama lost through there in 2012 2.04 points, Hillary Clinton lost through in 2016 3.66 pointsand Joe Biden lost through this November 1.34 points.
In fact, Democratic performances in North Carolina in 2008 and 2020 were pretty similar – even if one performance meant a win and a loss. And that’s the more notable trend: Democrats haven’t really gained ground in North Carolina in 12 years. And their inability to make a profit there is a good example of why demographics are not fate in American politics.
The North Carolina electorate rose from 28 percent Asian, Black, Hispanic, or some other race in 2010 to 31 percent in 2018, according to data Data from the Pew Research Center. All eligible voters don’t end up voting and all color voters aren’t Democrats, but this type of demographic change generally helps Democrats. Population of North Carolina grew faster than any other country except 10 from 2008 to 2018and much of this population growth is taking place in the two major subway areas in the state, Charlotte and the Research Triangle, the includes Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. This is another trend that should help the Democrats.
And in these growing North Carolina metropolitan areas, the Democrats have bigger margins right now as in other states. In 2008, Obama won Mecklenburg County, the most populous county in the Charlotte area, with 24 points; Biden won when he was 35. In Raleigh, Wake County, the most populous county in the state Overall, Obama won with 14 points, Biden with 27. According to the exit polls by Edison Research (Take them with a grain of salt, but they’re basically the only way to compare demographics over multiple election cycles), Obama won around 38 percent by white college graduates in 2008 in North Carolina while Biden won over 50 percent this year.
Despite this improvement, how in the world are Democrats stuck in the cities and graduates in North Carolina? Well, when Blue North Carolina got bluer, Red North Carolina got redder. Obama lost the white non-college vote in North Carolina by around 34 points in 2008, and Biden lost that block by 57 points in 2020, according to polls by Edison Research. All six counties in North Carolina voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but switched to Trump in 2016 remained Republican in 2020. In North Carolina’s 10 least populous counties, most of which are rural, Biden scored an average of 16 points worse than Obama.
And Democratic struggles don’t just take place in rural North Carolina. In the counties generally considered part of the Charlotte or Research Triangle metropolitan area, Biden performed worse than Obama in 12 of the 19 counties. These 12 counties tend to be rather small, exurban, and GOP oriented, but the fact that Republicans who made profits in these places shows how little Democrats have advanced outside of the liberal bastions of North Carolina in the past 12 years .
Whitney Ross Manzo, Professor of Political Science at Meredith College in Raleigh and contributor to a North Carolina political blog named Old Northern Policyargues that there is a deep tension in the state between people who grew up there and the influx of people from other states who settle in the Charlotte and Research Triangle areas.
“North Carolina is still shifting from a predominantly rural, native-born state to a more urban / suburban state with more outsiders,” Manzo said. “There is a real undercurrent in political discussions both within the North Carolina General Assembly and in campaigns to appeal to the ‘real’ North Carolina people. For most of this election cycle, the Republican message was essentially that the North Carolina and North Carolina Democrats do not understand values, especially Democrats who have worked in DC. “
With gains in urban core areas and losses everywhere else, the North Carolina Democrats got about 35 to 40 percent of the white vote in 2008 and now get basically the same votes, making it difficult for them to run the state. It’s not that North Carolina Democrats always lose. she won North Carolina’s only major national election, for a seat on the state Supreme Court, in 2018. In 2020, while the North Carolina Democrats lost three Supreme Court elections and six other competitions for national office along with the presidential and US Senate elections won the races for governor, state secretary, auditor and attorney general. But the bigger story is that North Carolina remains a tightly divided state that’s a little bit Republican – basically the same as it was in 2008.
“We are a battlefield state. But we’re not a big swing state. We didn’t swing, ”he said Susan Roberts, Professor of Political Science at Davidson College.
“In the long run, I’d say North Carolina is moving towards Virginia and ending up in light blue. This is mainly because the Raleigh and Charlotte subway areas continue to explode, drawing more and more Democratic and urban outsiders, ”Manzo said.
But she added, “I think North Carolina will stay purple in the near future.”
Why North Carolina is Relevant to Georgia
There are some reasons to believe that Peach State will be cheaper to Democrats than Tar Heel State in the near future, no matter what happens in the Georgia Senate races on Tuesday. First of all, white voters in the countryside and outside of college moved away from Democrats earlier in Georgia than they did in North Carolina. Hence, Republicans may find it more difficult to make up losses elsewhere with these groups, as they already do very Republicans in Georgia.
Second, Georgia is experiencing a slightly stronger demographic change than North Carolina. The number of voters rose from 37 percent of colored people in 2010 to 42 percent in 2018. Black voters, who are predominantly Democratic, make up about 32 percent of the electorate in North Carolina compared to Georgia. Third, what American politics are like increasingly divided between a Democratic Party, strong in urban areas, and a Republican Party, strong in rural areas, which does more harm to Democrats in North Carolina than in Georgia, because the former (about 37 percent) have more people living in rural areas than the latter (31 percent )).
After all, Georgia not only has more people living in urban and suburban areas than in North Carolinians, but the majority of them Georgia’s population (around 57 percent) lives in the Atlanta area. In contrast, only about 44 percent of North Carolina’s residents live in either Charlotte or the Research Triangle. It is likely that the growing racial diversity and liberalism in the Atlanta area are pushing longtime white residents to the left, and that effect is waning in North Carolina because not that many people live in a large metropolis.
But for all that the Democrats in Georgia had to offer, Biden only won the state with them 0.24 points in 2020even less than Obama’s 2008 margin in North Carolina. 2020 could obviously be the harbinger of an ongoing shift to the left in Georgia – the Atlanta area and Georgia white college graduates continue to become more liberal in subsequent election cycles push the state as a whole into democratic territory.
But maybe not. There are three other routes for Georgia. Perhaps it will essentially remain a 50:50 state, with the same general geographic and demographic patterns as it did in 2020. Perhaps it will swing to the right and some voters in the suburbs of Atlanta will rejoin the GOP once Trump leaves office . Or maybe, like North Carolina as a whole, the state remains tightly divided, even as voter ties change and Democrats gain strength in some areas while Republicans gain strength in others.
I dont know. And that’s why the history of North Carolina is so relevant to what’s happening in Georgia right now. Biden’s victory in Georgia was important not only to get 270 votes, but also to illustrate that his victory was fairly broad and unambiguous, even though Trump and the Republicans tried to reverse the results. If the Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both win, it would be huge to give the Democrats control of the White House and both houses of the US Congress. But even if the Democrats get a victory this year, we shouldn’t leave 2020 with the idea that Georgia is a dependably blue state, or even absolutely on its way to being reliably blue. After all, Obama and Hagan’s victories on Election Day 2008 in North Carolina seemed to be a sign of the state’s future. They were not.