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The Daily Tar Heel

Few surprises for analysts after state primary races

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Ariz., on Saturday, March 19, 2016. Arizona holds its presidential primary on Tuesday. (Allen J. Schaben/ Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a lot working in her favor to secure a victory in the North Carolina Democratic primary elections against Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt.

She enjoyed a comfortable lead over Sanders with 54.59 percent of the vote — which earned her 59 delegates in comparison to Sanders’ 45.

Steven Greene, a political science professor at N.C. State University, said he expects the state to vote blue in the November elections with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee.

Trump narrowly defeated Ted Cruz in the primary with 40.24 percent, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at 36.77 percent. The second-place finish allotted Trump and Cruz 29 and 27 delegates, respectively.

If Trump does not reach 1,237 delegates by the party’s convention, delegates are not bound to their state’s primary results — meaning they could select another candidate or someone outside the race.

Susan Roberts, a political science professor at Davidson College, called the Tuesday primaries “elimination day” for the candidates. And after a loss in his home state of Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., suspended his campaign.

Gubernatorial Race

The gubernatorial race left few surprises, as N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory swept his primary opponents, and current N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper won 68.76 percent of the vote for the Democrats.

Rob Schofield, policy director at N.C. Policy Watch, said running within a Republican party led by Trump could present an additional challenge for McCrory come November.

“In general, the governor, Sen. (Richard) Burr, others who are going to be on the ballot in November are very concerned about running with Donald Trump and what it would mean for their prospects,” he said. “It’s a wild card.”

Attorney General Race

Without an incumbent — given current Attorney General Cooper’s run for governor — the race is likely to be a toss-up in November, Schofield said.

For the Republicans, Buck Newton beat Jim O’Neill 54.92 percent to 45.08 percent. And state Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, clinched a Democratic victory with 53.45 percent of the vote.

U.S. Senate Race

Incumbent Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., defeated his challengers for the Republican Senate primary with 61.41 percent of the vote.

Mitch Kokai, a senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation, said Burr’s majority was not as high as expected for an incumbent.

“He might need to shore up his base with conservatives while pursuing independent and unaffiliated voters for the fall,” he said.

Deborah Ross easily defeated her three Democratic opponents for the Senate primary nomination — Ernest Reeves, Chris Rey and Kevin Griffin — with 62.37 percent.

He said she will face fierce competition against Burr, who has served two terms in the Senate and has experience in the House.

“If the Democratic presidential candidate does especially well in the state, that would give a boost to Democratic candidates like Deborah Ross,” UNC journalism professor Ferrel Guillory said.

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