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.
- Like Donald Trump, the polls and media had it wrong and McCrory’s favorability ratings were higher than expected.
- 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?