North Carolina's Democratic primaries Tuesday witnessed few surprises — early polls perfectly predicted the night's victors. The following is a breakdown of each major race as of 12:30 a.m. March 16, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Hillary Clinton had a lot working in her favor to secure a victory in the N.C. Democratic primary elections against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
She enjoyed a comfortable lead over Sanders with 54.58 percent of the vote with 99 percent of precincts reporting — translating into 56 delegates. Sanders, by contrast, won 40.74 percent of the vote and 26 delegates.
She has familiarity with pertinent issues in the South, which Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Public Life at UNC-Chapel Hill, said helps her resonate more with Southern voters.
And Steven Greene, professor of political science at N.C. State University, said he predicted the demographics of the N.C. electorate would give Clinton an edge.
“In states where African-American voters are a large portion of the electorate, she does really well,” Greene said. “This is very similar to other states she won by large margins, and I don’t see any reason that shouldn’t happen here.”
But nothing is telling for the November general election as of yet, and Guillory said North Carolina is particularly difficult to predict. The state has many unaffiliated registered voters, yet they end up dividing themselves almost evenly between Democratic and Republican candidates, he said.
“What we have learned about North Carolina over the past several elections is this is a state that is narrowly divided,” Guillory said.
But Greene said he foresees the state voting blue.
“It’s going to go back to the Democratic column this year,” he said. “I think Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, and I do think he will likely be a catastrophically bad general election candidate — otherwise I hate to think what that says about what our country is.”
Current N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper predictably won the Democratic nomination for governor against Ken Spaulding with 68.83 percent of the vote.
Analysts expected Cooper to breeze through the Democratic race.
“I think it’s clear that Roy Cooper has the advantage there,” Guillory said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt — he’s got much more money; he’s been the attorney general; he’s known around the state.”
Lieutenant Governor Race
Also as predicted, Linda Coleman had the edge for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, winning 50.88 percent of the vote.
There was some speculation that Coleman would face competition from Holly Jones, but Jones trailed behind with 28.96 percent of the vote.
Greene said Coleman should have the advantage since she was so close to winning the nomination in 2012.
“Linda Coleman leads in the (early) polls in the Democratic side, and I think that’s appropriate,” he said. “She came really close in that race in 2012…and I’m sure she’s got more name recognition among democrats than the others.”
Attorney General Race
The race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general between Josh Stein and Marcus Williams was much narrower than other state offices. But Stein ultimately clinched the victory with 53.74 percent of the vote.
Guillory said both Stein and Williams were familiar in Raleigh — but not statewide, which is why the race was competitive. Yet Greene said Stein attained statewide popularity among Democrats and progressives.
“He’s known and he’s popular,” Greene said.
U.S. Senate Race
Deborah Ross easily defeated her three democratic opponents for the Senate primary nomination — Ernest Reeves, Chris Rey and Kevin Griffin. Ross won a staggering 62.45 percent of the vote, and early polls suggested a comfortable win.
Guillory said although Ross has limited visibility as a statewide public figure because she lives in Raleigh, the other candidates had even less because they have not been involved in state-level politics to the same degree.
“None of these people are household names statewide. But again, Deborah Ross is the closest to being an establishment candidate and having the more general support of the party behind her,” Greene said.
But Guillory said she will face fierce competition against Republican incumbent Sen. Richard Burr.
Burr has been in the Senate for two terms and served in the House prior to that.
“I don’t think that anyone underestimates the potency of Senator Burr as a candidate,” Guillory said. “If the Democratic presidential candidate does especially well in the state, that would give a boost to Democratic candidates like Deborah Ross.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.