Today, Americans in 50 states will go to the ballot to choose a new president, Americans in 24 states will have to make a choice for their representation in the U.S. Senate and Americans in 12 states will choose a new governor.
But only in North Carolina will all three of these races be so contentious that none of their outcomes are clear even the night before.
Sometimes, it can be hard to imagine your vote mattering when you know whoever wins the presidential race will win by a margin of millions of votes, but a vote is a lot more than a number.
A vote is your capacity to speak. A vote is your ability to be heard. A vote is absolutely essential for a healthy democracy, just like voter apathy is sickness.
As long as you are not a white, property-owning male, your right to vote was not always guaranteed in this country. Someone sacrificed their time and talents, and even in many cases their life, to guarantee you the right you can choose to exercise today.
And take it from a New Jersey boy — y’all are so lucky to live in a state where anything can be decided by just one vote.
Go to gttp.votinginfoproject.org and enter your address to find your polling location and its hours of operation today.
State & National Editor
UNITED STATES PRESIDENT
The U.S. Presidential election is teetering between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, with the outcome of the election resting on swing states, including North Carolina.
The RealClearPolitics polling average released Monday showed Clinton leading Trump nationally by 3.3 percentage points.
The FiveThirtyEight polling average on Monday had Clinton ahead of Trump across the country by 3.6 percentage points.
Jacob Smith, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science, said in an email the race is close, but Clinton holds an edge in the electoral college.
“There are more plausible maps that could result in a Clinton victory than in a Trump victory — Clinton could afford to lose all of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, while Donald Trump needs to win all three of these states,” he said. “This isn’t to say that Donald Trump cannot win, but that he faces an uphill battle to do so.”
As of now, FiveThirtyEight shows that New Hampshire is leaning toward Clinton, and a victory there would all but grant her electoral victory, barring an upset in one of her safer states.
David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College, said in an email he recommended people look to polling aggregations rather than individual polls for accurate information.
“I expect that Hillary Clinton will win enough states to comfortably win the electoral votes necessary to win the presidency,” McLennan said. “She has consistently led in states, including North Carolina, and I expect that the final vote will reflect the poll results from recent weeks.”
North Carolina is one of the election’s crucial battleground states, and both candidates have intensified their campaigning all over the Tar Heel state in the push leading up to Election Day.
FiveThirtyEight polling average shows Clinton having a 54.8 percent chance of winning the state compared to Trump’s 45.2 percent chance for victory. The candidates or vice presidential nominees for each party have been in the state every week since the conventions.
Smith said there is a thin margin between Clinton and Trump in North Carolina.
“The presidential race in North Carolina is very close, with perhaps the slightest of advantages to Hillary Clinton,” he said.
McLennan said he is worried about the aftermath of the election and the potential for ill will. He said Trump’s claims about a rigged election have caused people to question the democratic process.
“If the results are close, we may have many legal challenges filed in individual states contesting the results, or at least the legitimacy of some votes,” McLennan said.
NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR
Polls are showing North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper are set for a close election.
According to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday, Cooper is up three points on McCrory, leading 50 to 47 percent.
Meanwhile, a poll released by Elon University Nov. 1 showed a tie.
Gary Pearce, a Democratic political analyst from North Carolina, said the state is one of few with a competitive gubernatorial race.
“We’re a Southern state where an incumbent Republican governor could lose for re-election, and that is a pretty remarkable thing,” he said.
Carter Wrenn, a Republican political analyst from North Carolina, said this election will be decided by unaffiliated voters.
Pearce said this election is all about how people feel about McCrory’s performance as governor.
Wrenn said the race was very different a few months ago. He said McCrory was handicapped early on by a large disapproval rating, and Cooper was not widely known.
“Pat had a lead, but it wasn’t 50 percent of the vote, it was like 40 percent,” he said. “As Cooper has become better known, he has picked up votes pretty steadily until he moved into the lead, and he’s sort of held onto it for the last couple of months.”
Pearce said McCrory seems to have closed in on Cooper’s lead following Hurricane Matthew, but Cooper remains ahead by enough points to feel confident about his chances.
“There are only two ways to keep score in politics: money and polls, and Cooper is leading in both of them,” he said.
Pearce said one of Cooper’s strengths is that he might be one of the last Democratic candidates in North Carolina hailing from a rural background. If Cooper can win a few points in Eastern North Carolina that would normally go to McCrory, that would be huge in a race this close, he said.
He said because Donald Trump is a nontraditional candidate, Republicans have fallen behind Democrats in voter mobilization efforts, and he expects Cooper to win by five points.
Wrenn said voter turnout is impossible to predict, but Republicans have already been turning out for early voting at a higher rate than four years ago at this point. McCrory won 54.7 percent of the vote in 2012.
“If Democrats vote a little less than Republicans, well, that can make up two points pretty quickly,” he said.
UNITED STATES SENATE
Democratic senatorial candidate Deborah Ross has provided Sen. Richard Burr with a surprisingly close race in his bid for reelection, though recent polls still show Burr holding onto his lead.
According the Real Clear Politics poll average, Burr is leading Ross by two points, 47 to 45. FiveThirtyEight gives Burr a 73.4 percent chance of keeping his seat based off the polls.
Michael Bitzer, political science professor at Catawba College, said the polling results point to a base election, in which few voters stray from their party affiliations.
“I think both of them are just naturally appealing to their respective partisan voters —you know, I think Burr’s attack on Ross’ ACLU connections is kind of a classic ‘She’s too liberal for North Carolina,’” he said. “I think Ross is trying to claim he’s been in Washington too long, and it’s time for a change.”
A Quinnipiac poll released Sunday showed Burr and Ross caught in a virtual tie — 47 to 47, while a NY Times and Siena poll showed Burr leading Ross 46 to 45.
In 2010, Burr won by a large margin — keeping his U.S. Senate seat with a lead of over 10 percent.
Bitzer said this election cycle, early voting has presented unique data that may affect the race between Ross and Burr.
Compared to the 2008 and 2012 elections, the number of registered Republican and unaffiliated voters who have voted early in 2016 has increased, while the number of African Americans who have voted early this year has decreased, he said.
The candidates have reacted differently to their party’s nominee. While Ross has been seen with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her surrogates across the state, Burr has mostly avoided appearing with Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“It is a very close race with a slight edge to Sen. Burr,” Bitzer said. “I think it has become much more close than most folks would have thought, but he’s managing to hold a slight lead in terms of an average of the polls.”
NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Voters casting their ballots today in the race for attorney general will be deciding a close race between Republican candidate and N.C. Sen. Buck Newton and Democratic candidate and former N.C. Sen. Josh Stein.
In a SurveyUSA poll conducted from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31, Stein led Newton 47 percent to 43 percent. In another NC Civitas poll, from two weeks prior on Oct. 16, Newton was leading with 40 percent to 38 percent for Stein.
Peter Francia, political science professor at East Carolina University, said this race may be affected by more prominent races at the top of the ballot.
“I think that the top of the ticket always has an impact on down-ballot races,” he said.
He described this as a coattail effect, a phenomenon wherein popular candidates may sway voters in their political party’s direction in other ongoing races. Thomas Eamon, associate political professor at ECU, agreed.
“If this was an election where the top Democratic candidates won by several percentage points or more, I think that Stein would win,” he said. “If this was an election where the top Republican candidates won, I suspect Newton would win.”
Eamon said this race does offer a significant choice because the candidates are starkly different. He said it was uncommon to have two completely new candidates run for this office in the same election year.
If Newton wins, he will be the first Republican to hold the position in over a century.
“It’s probably going to be a pretty close race,” Eamon said. “Too close for anyone who has stake in it to feel comfortable.”
UNITED STATES HOUSE
The U.S House of Representatives race in North Carolina’s 4th district seems to heavily favor another win by incumbent Democrat David Price.
The Republican challenger, Sue Googe, is unlikely to win in a district that favors Democrats so strongly and has a congressman who has represented them for such a long time.
John Davis, a North Carolina political analyst, said he believes that the result of this race will not change the balance or majority of the House of Representatives.
“It’s going to be very, very difficult for Democrats to overcome the numerical advantage that Republicans started with,” he said.
Davis also said Price has raised $675,901 compared to Googe, who has raised $110,258. This and his incumbency advantage make Price hard to beat.
“He’s the perfect representative for district four and the makeup of the people in that district. So all of those — the financial relationship, the personal relationship — have been built over two decades, all of that in an algorithm equals a very successful day for David Price tomorrow,” he said.
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