Pat McCrory concedes NC re-election bid

After almost a month of uncertainty, we now have a new North Carolina Governor-Elect in Roy Cooper.


After close to a month of rancorously contested North Carolina gubernatorial race results, Republican Governor Pat McCrory conceded to Democratic NC Attorney General Roy Cooper on Monday.

On Election Day, November 8th, some 2,281,000 people had voted for Cooper to McCrory’s 2,276,000. However, due to the minuscule difference in the vote count and peculiar, ill timed voting machine failures in Durham County (around 150,000 votes), Gov. McCrory refused to accept the results.

Gov. McCrory almost immediately requested a recount in Durham County, which the NC State Board of Elections (via voting party lines) granted.

After more than 50 people spent 21 hours over a 3 day span counting some 90,000 ballots, the results were found to have hardly changed (Cooper gained 6 votes). This did not come as a surprise to anyone, given Durham’s Democratic demographics, which initially voted for Cooper over McCrory 78.5%-19.8%.

After all the other uncounted votes around the state trickled in, Roy Cooper finished with a margin of victory of about 10,300 votes – just beyond the 10,000 mark at which a statewide recount could be called.

Hours after the Durham County Board of Elections released the recount results, Gov. Pat McCrory finally conceded the race to Attorney General Roy Cooper. This marked the first time a North Carolina Governor elected to a four year term had lost a re-election bid.

Roy Cooper won the election, yes. However, he only won 49.0% to McCrory’s 48.9%. This was even AFTER one of the most controversial bills in recent history in HB2 (aka the ‘Bathroom Bill’ which sought to limit LGBTQ+ rights and required transgender individuals to use restrooms in schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates). This bill made headlines and spurred a national outcry, not to mention it being covered for (what felt like) ages. The media and Democrats were furious, painting Gov. McCrory almost as the devil. It severely hurt the NC economy too, with music artists canceling scheduled shows, major sports events getting moved to other locations, etc.

And still Cooper only won by some 10,000 votes! Now in my mind, there are only a few possible explanations.

  • HB2 was blown up by the media and a significant amount of people in NC didn’t actually care that much.
    • or
  • Like Donald Trump, the polls and media had it wrong and McCrory’s favorability ratings were higher than expected. 
    • or
  • Roy Cooper was not that strong of a candidate and like Hillary Clinton, was painted as having experience but the wrong experience (having only held Attorney General as a political position, and hadn’t actually done his job) – which the NC people proved they didn’t like by turning NC red again for Donald Trump in the general election. 


Whatever the reason, I believe Cooper should have done much better. He had been Attorney General of NC for the past few years, was born on a farm and had worked his way up, and was running against an incumbent who had made negative national headlines for signing an extremely controversial bill. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

In the end, nothing. Nothing went wrong for Governor Elect of North Carolina Roy Cooper. He won the race fair and square, and at the end of he day will be the 75th governor of North Carolina.

However, it does make you wonder. How much of a difference to the election results would it have made if Pat McCrory hadn’t signed HB2? 

About Ray Palma 12 Articles
Hi, I'm Raymond T. Palma, and I am currently a Junior at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina. My email is


  1. I think this article was well written, and portrayed the difference in opinion of people in North Carolina. It could have had less of a bias, but typically the media has a bias. Good job Ray.

    • Thanks. I really wish that there were some way to effectively poll an entire population with pin point accuracy. Then again, that would probably take the fun out of covering politics and elections.

  2. That’s extremely true. The House and Senate ones, as well as local elections, are unfortunately undervalued and overlooked. This is very saddening to see because people don’t seem to understand that these elections are the ones that can actually conduct visible change at the local level.
    I do believe many liberals applauded Governor-Elect Cooper for pledging not to enforce HB2. However, on the flip side of that, conservatives were bashing him for “not doing his job”. What do you think, did moderates side with the democrats and decide this election?

  3. Nice article Ray.

    I think a key reason for the small vote margin in the gubernatorial race, and one that your article overlooks, is that people are always mobilized to vote for president more than any other office or issue. Clearly this election, Trump was able to have a better showing at the polls than Clinton, and I believe that may have been the largest factor in the narrow margin, given the number of Republicans who vote straight ticket every year. Frankly, given the decisive win that Trump had in North Carolina, it is shocking to me that Cooper was able to win the state. A difference in results as significant as the one between these two elections can only mean that many Trump voters in the state either cast ballots for Cooper or neglected to vote for governor.

    I certainly think HB2 was the issue that won Cooper the election, and while it’s support may have been missed in the polls much like Trump’s, it still received almost entirely bad press for both human rights and economic issues. I also think that Cooper earned his victory in the eyes of many by declining to enforce HB2 before he even began campaigning, so in that aspect it seems unfair to call him a weak candidate.


  4. 2016 seems to be all about exposing the underlying, quiet conservatism that hides behind much-more-public liberalism. Unfortunately, the loud progress made by liberals (which I absolutely support) has brought reactionaries to the polls, while many liberals felt that the battle had been won before it was even fought and consequently thought it was okay to stay home.

    I think that this article is really interesting, Ray. You make several interesting points! Be careful that your hypotheses don’t come across as judgments, though, as the objective of journalism is to be objective. Don’t condemn the outcry against HB2 as over the top–for many people, that bill proved how little the government values the lives of constituents. Similarly, avoid condemning Clinton or Cooper as weak or undeserving candidates: both won (at least the popular vote) and therefore clearly do have significant support. Keep writing and sharing your articles with me, please!

    • Very interesting point about conservatism being masked and pushed as liberalism. I had never thought of it in that way.
      I wonder whether Democrats will take back the Senate in two years. I would say it depends on how President-Elect Trump conducts matters in office more than anything else.

    • Yes, as soon as I had heard McCrory signed HB2, I thought he was dead in the water. The fact that he almost won was super surprising to me. I guess NC wanted a change.

  5. this article made me think a lot about the state of our state. As you said Cooper had the potential and should of (in my opinion) won by a lot more. This makes me wonder is this because more people who hadn’t voted before voted? Or are you right in saying HB2 isn’t as big as we all thought it was or was there something else failed to account for? Overall very thought provoking and well written

    • Exactly. I guess HB2 was supported by many of the rural, conservative North Carolinians and because we live in Durham (which is very liberal), we didn’t get a diverse base of opinions. This probably led us to believe that due to everyone here not liking it, the rest of NC must not either. Which, as it appears, simply isn’t the case. Also possibly many people just didn’t vote for a governor? Who knows, but real interesting as you said.

  6. I think the problem was closest to the first one mentioned about HB2. However I do not think that they were people who didn’t care, I believe a significant amount of the rural more conservative population actually supported the bill (and were not indifferent about it), but they did not recieve nearly the media coverage as the urban population who were not only against it but organized protests did.

    Nice article Ray I didn’t know you did this.

    • Yeah Buddy, that’s a great point. There is a significant, older, conservative population in NC that probably is anti lgbtq+. I guess they cemented their presence by turning NC red this year. Do you think that means some conservatives voted for Cooper in dislike of HB2?

      • I suppose a few may have but I think if we credit anyone for Coopers win based on HB2 it would have to be the moderates.

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