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A look back at the North Carolina 2022 statewide midterm elections

A voter takes an “I Voted” sticker after voting at the Chapel Hill Public Library voting site in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, when the polls opened on midterm election day.

The 2022 North Carolina general midterm elections saw narrow margins of victory and complete flips in party control. 

Democrats and Republicans battled for U.S. Senate and House seats and competed for N.C. General Assembly, N.C. Supreme and Appellate Court majorities.

North Carolinians elected U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C. 13th) to serve as the state's next U.S. Senator by over 130,000 votes. Budd will join Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), whose term expires in January 2027, in the chamber.

In the U.S. House races, Republicans and Democrats split the seats 7-7. After the 2020 U.S. Census showed population growth in the state, North Carolina was apportioned an extra seat in the House, bringing the number of total seats from 13 to 14. 

District 1 and 13 saw pivotal outcomes, with N.C. Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Wake) winning what was considered the state's only ‘swing seat’ after court-ordered redistricting changed the map of District 13. Nickel will be the first Democrat to occupy the seat since 2012. 

In District 1, N.C. Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene, Pitt) defeated Republican Sandy Smith by over four percent of the vote. The redrawn district encompasses Elizabeth City and Columbia, leaving out Goldsboro, which was previously included.

In District 4, which includes Orange County, N.C. Sen. Valerie Foushee (D-Chatham, Orange) defeated Republican candidate Courtney Geels.

Chris Cooper, professor of political science at Western Carolina University, said N.C. Republicans claimed their two biggest prizes in the U.S. Senate and two N.C. Supreme Court victories.

Judges Richard Dietz and Trey Allen won their respective races for seats 3 and 5, allowing Republicans to take a 5-2 majority on the state's highest court. 

The state Supreme Court, which has ruled on key issues such as gerrymandering and voter ID laws, will now have a Republican majority on the bench until at least 2028. At the time of those decisions, the N.C. Supreme Court had a Democratic majority.

“I think the big question will be, do these judges adhere to traditional legal standards of respecting prior precedent on major issues that come in front of them,” N.C. Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Caswell, Orange), who was elected to represent District 23 in the N.C. Senate, said. 

The N.C. Court of Appeals elections also proved successful for Republicans, with four of the 15 seats up for reelection filled by Republican judges. 

Judges Julee Flood, Donna Stroud, John M. Tyson and Michael Stading will now hold those seats. Republicans gained a net two seats, climbing from a 10-5 majority to a 12-3 majority in the state's main appellate court.

N.C. Senate Bill 3, which became law before the 2018 general election, requires N.C. judges running for office to clarify a political party affiliation on the ballot.

Jonah Garson, the chairperson of the Orange County Democratic Party, said that, ideally, North Carolina wouldn’t have partisan judicial races or public financing for judicial elections.

“These were all things that the GOP did over the past decade to try to game the system. That's the theme here,” Garson said.

Garson also said he believes the Democratic Party is at an “inflection point,” and certain Democratic candidates will need more organizational support for the party to be successful in the future.

In the N.C. General Assembly, Republicans were one state House seat away from securing a supermajority that could override gubernatorial vetoes. 

The net gain of two Republican seats in the N.C. Senate gave way to a 30-20 Republican supermajority. Republicans needed to win a total of 72 seats in the N.C. House, but came up just short with 71.

Meyer was elected to District 23 in the N.C. Senate that represents Orange, Caswell and Person counties.

Democrat Renée Price won the race in District 50, which includes Orange County, in the N.C. House against Charles Lopez and will take the seat previously held by Meyer.

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Meyer said that while there are many partisan issues, such as bills on abortion and other controversial topics, bipartisan compromise will be important for bills on the budget, marijuana legalization, healthcare access, education and climate action. 

“So I think we all go into legislative session looking for opportunities to find compromise solutions where we can,” Meyer said.

He also said elected officials in the N.C. General Assembly “stand their ground” on issues that may cause harm, where constituents need to be represented.


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