DemDaily: North Carolina Governors Race Heats Up!

April 12, 2024

This November, there are gubernatorial elections up in 11 states as well as the territories of American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

Of the 11, Republicans are defending eight seats, including four open races in Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.

Democrats are defending three seats, all open. In Washington, three-term Governor Jay Inslee is retiring. Delaware Governor John Carney is term-limited, as is Roy Cooper in North Carolina -- Democrats' most vulnerable gubernatorial seat.

The critical presidential battleground state promises to deliver one of the most pivotal and highly watched governors races of 2024.

Of the 50 US states, Democrats hold 23 gubernatorial seats to Republicans' 27. Of the five US territories, four are held by Democrats and one by an Independent.

The Tar Heel State
Although Democrats dominated state politics in the first half of the 1900s, North Carolinians have been split ticket voters since the early 1970s,

North Carolina has voted for the Republican candidate in nine of the last 10 presidential elections, with the exception of Barack Obama in 2008.

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The state awarded Donald Trump a 1.34%% victory over President Joe Biden in 2020, the same year it reelected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper with 51.5% and Republican Senator Thom Tillis by 1.8%.

Junior Senator Ted Budd (R) was elected in one of 2022's highest-profile races, defeating former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, 50.5%- 47.3%.

Tar Heels are represented by 14 members In Congress, with Democrats and Republicans each holding seven seats. The GOP, however, controls both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly.

While the state's voters may favor Republicans in presidential elections, they elected a Democratic governor for but four years this century.

In a April 4-8, 2024 Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters, Biden and Trump were in a dead heat, with 48% of voters supporting Trump and 46% supporting Biden (MOE: +/- 2.6)

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Gubernatorial
In the crucial southern swing state, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) and Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson (R) prevailed In the March 5 primaries and are poised to run the most pivotal — and contentious — governor’s race in the country this fall.

The race has drawn national attention for the clash between two statewide officials and as a bellwether battle for the top of the ticket.

Stein, who was recognized in 2023 for his national bipartisan leadership by the National Association of Attorneys General, is in his second term, having previously served in the State Senate. He is the first Jewish person in North Carolina history to win a statewide election -- winning both his 2016 and 2020 elections by less than 1%.

He announced his candidacy in January 2023 and entered 2024 with $11.4 million cash on hand and reported raising $2.2 million through February with a total of $12.7 million on hand.

In the April 4-8, 2024 Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters, Democrat Josh Stein leads Republican Mark Robinson 52% - 44% in a head-to-head matchup.

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Robinson, by contrast, finished 2023 with $4.2 million cash on hand, despite raising $9.9 million since last April.

Robinson was elected in 2020, defeating Democrat Yvonne Lewis Holley 51.63%-48.37% and becoming the first African American to hold the office of lieutenant governor in North Carolina.

An ardent Trump supporter who is seen as a rising right-wing star, Robinson has a long public trail of controversial, racist public statements,

He is running on conservative values and supports tightening North Carolina's abortion restrictions from a 12-week ban to a six-week ban, is a fervent supporter of Second Amendment rights, a Holocaust denier, anti-LGBTQ+ He is also known for promoting various far-right conspiracy theories.

Stein, in direct contrast, supports abortion access and is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic. In his role as attorney general, Stein worked toward alleviating the opioid crisis and ending the untested rape kit backlog. Stein supports gun safety protections.

Of Robinson, Governor Cooper said, “It’s impossible to overstate his very long history of divisive and damaging statements.”

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Sources: Ballotpedia, NBC, StarNewOnline, CNN

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