President Donald Trump and Senator Thom Tillis led Republicans to strong victories across the state in Council of State, judicial and legislative races.
After all election day precincts reported their results President Trump leads former vice president Joe Biden 49.98% to 48.57% a margin of 76,701 votes. Senator Tillis leads his Democrat opponent Cal Cunningham by 96,707 votes.
Civitas election analyst Andy Jackson says with roughly 100,000 mail ballots yet unaccounted for “The magic number for a lead tonight to be unassailable by mail voting is 39,000.”
“The senate race changed dramatically in the last 30 days, due to the scandal surrounding Cal Cunningham,” said Civitas President Donald Bryson. “This is the danger when one person like Senator Chuck Schumer picks a candidate because they look good on paper and keeps the candidate from being properly vetted by voters in a competitive primary process. Democrats in Washington D.C. did Democrats in North Carolina no favors here.”
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper was reelected to a second term, defeating Republican challenger Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. With all precincts reporting, Cooper led with 51% of the vote compared to Forest’s 46% of the vote. Cooper held large leads throughout the race, but Forest closed the race enough to avoid being a drag on other GOP candidates, including lieutenant governor candidate Mark Robinson.
The Real Clear Politics average for the race showed Cooper leading by 11 points. The NBC News/Marist poll released on Oct 30 showed Cooper leading by a whopping 19 points. Our own Civitas poll released October 29 showed a 10-point Cooper lead. The Forrest campaign will need further review, but the fact the race was not a blowout in the end was helpful to other Republicans down the ballot.
Democrats were expected to increase their share of representation on North Carolina’s 13-seat U.S. House delegation from three seats to at least five as a result of recent redrawing of districts. Former State Rep. Deborah Ross, who four years ago unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Richard Burr for his seat, was declared the winner to represent a redrawn congressional district (2nd) that takes up most of Wake County.
The 6th District was redrawn to take in all of Guilford County and also part of Forsyth County, making it much more Democrat friendly. Democrat Kathy Manning of Greensboro won that seat over Republican Lee Haywood.
But those were the only two seats Democrats could add Tuesday, losing in three races (NC-8, NC-9, NC-11) that some considered competitive, making North Carolina’s new Congressional delegation 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats.
Democrats’ well-funded attempt at gaining control of the state legislature fell well short as Republicans gained overall seats in the General Assembly, despite being outspent by millions. Democrats will have a net gain of one senate seat — leaving the chamber with 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats. Republicans will add a net of four seats to their House majority, leaving that chamber with 69 Republicans and 51 Democrats.
House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson told the News and Observer Tuesday night. “The seats we had hoped to pick up I don’t think we’re going to pick up. Trump at the top of the ticket was too much to overcome in those areas.”
Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger issued a news release on the results, saying that “for the sixth consecutive election, voters made a clear choice in support of the Republican platform of low taxes, expanded school choice, and large investments in education and teacher pay.”
Council of State
Republicans had a strong night on the Council of State. Republican Mark Robinson was elected the state’s first African American Lieutenant Governor. Republicans also won open races for Labor Commissioner and Superintendent of Public Instruction. Republicans will hold six of the 10 Council of State seats.
“Overall I believe the voters of North Carolina sent a clear message for real solutions and conservative public polices that have lowered taxes, expanded school choice and expanded personal freedom in North Carolina,” said Civitas President Donald Bryson.
Attorney General Democrat Josh Stein said Tuesday night he is confident he will retain his position as the top law enforcement official after leading 50.1% to 49.9% over his opponent, Jim O’Neill. As of this writing, Stein held a lead of 10,769 votes out of more than 5.3 million votes cast in the race.
Auditor Beth Wood, a Democrat, is poised to remain as state auditor after Tuesday’s election. She was leading against her opponent, Anthony “Tony” Street, 50.8%-49.1%, good for a lead of roughly 90,000 votes.
Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler will remain North Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture after leading his opponent Jenna Wadsworth, 54%-46%. Troxler, 68, a Guilford Republican, has held his seat since 2005.
Commissioner of Insurance
Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey will continue serving the state in his role after winning his election against Wayne Goodwin, 52%-48%. Both Causey and Goodwin have held this seat and have become political foes over the years. Causey, 70, a Republican, was the incumbent this year after ousting Goodwin in 2016. Goodwin had held the position since 2009. Prior to being the Insurance Commissioner, Goodwin, 53, had been an attorney and elected to two-terms to the state House of Representatives.
Commissioner of Labor
Republican Josh Dobson defeated his opponent, Democrat Jessica Holmes, 51%-49%. Dobson, 39, is a four-term member of the N.C. House of Representatives representing Avery, McDowell and Mitchell counties.
Secretary of State
After 24 years in office, Democrat Elaine Marshall will continue serving North Carolina as Secretary of State. Marshall retained her seat after winning against businessman E.C. Sykes with 51%-49% of the vote.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Republican Catherine Truitt will become North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction after winning her election against Jen Mangrum 51% to 49%. The seat became available after Superintendent Mark Johnson unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor after one term in office.
Dale Folwell remains North Carolina’s State Treasurer after winning the election against Ronnie Chatterji with nearly 53% of the vote. Folwell, 61, a Winston-Salem native, is a certified public accountant who became the Treasurer in 2017. He is the first Republican to hold the position in 140 years.
Statewide Judicial Races
Republican candidates led in all eight statewide judicial races including three on the North Carolina Supreme Court and five on the Court of Appeals. Judge Paul Newby pulled ahead of Chief Justice Cheri Beasley by fewer than 3,000 votes out of more than 5.3 million votes cast late in the evening in the race for the top seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Newby, the only Republican on the Supreme Court, had 50.03% of the vote with about 99.9% of precincts reporting. Beasley had 49.97%. With outstanding mail ballots as well as provisional ballots, this race could easily flip back to Beasley.
Two Court of Appeals judges, Republican Phil Berger Jr. and Democrat Lucy Inman, faced off to join the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice. Berger won the race with 51%.
Republican Tamara Barringer also won with 51% of the vote over Mark Davis, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Cooper to fill the vacancy left by Beasley’s chief justice appointment.
Republicans also lead in all Court of Appeals races and should win a minimum of 7 of the 8 statewide court races.
Closing a Historic Decade
Republicans began the decade by winning both chambers of the legislature, for the first time in well over a century. A couple of years later they elected only the third GOP governor in modern history, the only one to ever have a GOP legislature. In 2014 the GOP defeated Sen. Kay Hagan and elevated State House Speaker Thom Tillis to U.S. Senator.
The GOP would lose the governor’s race in 2016, but re-elect Senator Richard Burr and pick up three Council of State seats they had not held in modern history.
In 2018, they survived a difficult Democrat-leaning cycle, finishing the decade like they started, with majority control of the General Assembly.
Last night’s results mean Republicans maintain their majorities in the state legislature, and the right to lead the redistricting process going into the next decade.