Pre-Election State Analysis: North Carolina


Baxter Yarbrough is from Morrilton and a sophomore honors student at the University of Arkansas. He is double majoring in political science and psychology with minors in marketing, legal studies, and social work. Yarbrough is involved in the University of Arkansas’s chapters of Beta Theta Pi, Young Democrats, Pi Sigma Alpha, Rotaract, United Campus Ministries and Resident Interhall Congress. After graduation, Yarbrough hopes to attend graduate school and concurrently receive a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and a Master of Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, as part of the two schools’ JD/MPS program.

Whether it was the signing of the highly controversial “Bathroom Bill” by Governor Pat McCrory into law, the fatal shooting of Walter Scott in the spring of 2015, the heavily favored Carolina Panthers losing Super Bowl L, or the recent effects of Hurricane Matthew, North Carolina has certainly been in the news over the past year and a half.  These events aside, North Carolina has once again emerged as an important swing state in the 2016 campaign. I could see either of the two major party candidates winning North Carolina, but I believe that Hillary Clinton will take the state this election.

To understand how North Carolina might swing in the year’s biggest election, it is important to not only analyze just how involved each candidate has been with the state, but study each party’s spending on statewide and local races for public office.  According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, almost $75,000,000 has been put forward by people of the United States toward elections in North Carolina, with twelve of the fifteen most expensive campaigns in the state being headed by a Republican candidate, a good sign of the effectiveness of the GOP’s voter outreach campaign. With Trump himself making nine appearances in the state since August 1st and running mate Mike Pence visiting North Carolina four times, it comes as a surprise that the campaign trails the Clinton/Kaine team by a percentage point as of October 14. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has only made three appearances in the state in the same time frame.

Voters also tend to look at least a little bit into a candidate’s personal life when making their decision of who to vote for, and with the recent release of video footage portraying Donald Trump engaging in what he refers to as “locker room talk,” I have a difficult time seeing undecided voters and women voting for the Republican nominee. With the race in North Carolina being so close at this moment, even a slight dip in female support for Trump could swing the state’s electoral votes to Clinton.

Even with that said, there is a chance that Trump could win the state if he is able to overcome this October surprise. With the pulling out of major businesses, the money being spent in support of local Republican candidates, and the state’s recent history of favoring GOP presidential candidates (excluding Obama’s taking of North Carolina in 2008), there is a present conservative force that has current control of state politics. Trump, however, is not currently able to focus on bringing in new voters due to what has happened in recent weeks.

Prediction: Ultimately, I believe that Hillary Clinton will take the state due to her current ability to go out and gain support from voters who have recently began to have a negative view of Donald Trump. Clinton’s promise of “having [North Carolina’s] back” through the coming months after the landfall of Hurricane Matthew, along with other favorable trends in the campaign, make her the favorite to win the state this November.

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