Nov 13, 2020 - Election

Election Wait Update: North Carolina called for Trump; state Supreme Court Chief Justice race is incredibly close


(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Donald Trump won North Carolina, meaning Republicans have now won the state in three straight presidential elections — and in 12 of the past 14.

The latest (updated Sunday, November 15, 8 p.m.): Several national media outlets finally announced what most observers who live here believed to be true most of the week: Donald Trump will hold onto his lead in North Carolina.

With only a few hundred votes left to be reported, Trump was up by 73,325 votes at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

What’s left to count? Robeson County didn’t report its provisional ballot count on Friday. Less than 2,000 votes remain there. The county supported Trump with about 59 percent of the vote.

Races still hanging in the balance: The state Supreme Court Chief Justice race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Paul Newby is ridiculously close.

With more than 5.7 million votes cast, Beasley led Newby by just 35 as of Sunday night.

Regardless what happens with those Robeson votes today, this race will probably head to a recount.

Beasley-Newby race Sunday November 15

Why Trump’s win in N.C. matters: For the overall presidential contest, it won’t.

At around the same time they called North Carolina for Trump, major outlets called Georgia for Joe Biden, giving him 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Kamala Harris will be the first woman to be vice president.

But the nation’s eyes will again be on the state four years from now, considering how close this and other recent elections have been. Trump won the state by 1.34 percentage points this time. He won it by 3.66 points in 2016. Mitt Romney won it by 2.04 in 2012, and Barack Obama won it by 0.32 in 2008.

Kamala Harris at rally at Truist Field in Charlotte 2020
Kamala Harris held a rally at Truist Field on October 21.

What it means for Charlotte: In Mecklenburg County, Biden won with nearly 67 percent of the vote. So when the Biden-Harris victory seemed apparent last Saturday, people went into the streets to celebrate.

Also, Mayor Vi Lyles could be in line for a job in the Biden administration, in some capacity. She has a strong relationship with him and campaigned for him throughout the summer and fall. She was part of a national Biden advertisement that included other women of color who are mayors.

Congresswoman Alma Adams has also been mentioned in conversations about secretary of education.

“It’s an emotional moment, but it’s time to celebrate this historic event,” Adams said of the Biden victory last weekend.

No matter who winds up in Washington, Lyles said last week that having Biden in office will help restore the relationship between the city and the White House. Trump regularly took aim at Democrat-run cities in campaign events, and few cities are run more by Democrats than Charlotte — the city council is 9-2 Democrats, and the county commission is 9-0.

“President Trump has brought so little to the urban communities in this country,” Lyles said Tuesday at an Election Day campaign event at precinct 212. “We still struggle with moving people around our cities without transit funding, how do we make sure our cities are safer, with work around our police departments. When you look at what we’re trying to do, this administration has been about division and not unity.”

Who counts provisionals and absentee-by-mail ballots, and when? The local boards of election do, when they meet to go over absentee and provisionals. Most local boards were scheduled to meet this week, long before the election. Friday was the last day to accept votes. Here was a schedule for all 100 counties’ absentees.

Standard procedure: Elections officials want to assure the public that this is how elections are always handled here. North Carolina was late in announcing because the margin was close, and the state always waits to count ballots that were postmarked by Election Day.

What’s different this time? The sheer number of mail-in ballots.

“This is nothing new; this is what we do every year,” Mecklenburg County director of elections Michael Dickerson told the Agenda. 

To find out who won down ballot contests, check out our summary of the 40 races on Mecklenburg’s ballots.

Further reading: The New York Times published a map that showed how counties shifted from 2016 to 2020. West of Charlotte, several mountain counties actually became more blue. But most counties along the U.S. 74 corridor east of Charlotte, including Robeson, took hard right turns.

Join us: This coverage is made possible and free to all (no paywall) with the help of Agenda Members. If you’d like to support more reporting like this, become an Agenda Member.


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