Nov 28, 2022 - Politics

Where N.C. differed from the US in the 2022 elections

Illustration of North Carolina under a red spotlight.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The results of this year's midterm elections looked far different in North Carolina than they did nationally.

Context: In a year that was predicted to be detrimental to Democrats nationally, the party performed far better than expected.

  • North Carolina was a different story. Here, Republicans gained a majority on the state Supreme Court, a supermajority in the state Senate and what could effectively be a supermajority in the House, where some moderate Democrats may vote with Republicans.

Why it matters: This year's election results are a reminder that this purple-ish swing state continues to be an anomaly. Republicans are no doubt the dominant party here, sweeping many elections of note despite the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans on the voter registration rolls.

Here are four North Carolina election outcomes that set the state apart:

1. Republicans swept in the races that mattered most.

  • The party won two state Supreme Court races, flipping the court from a Democratic to a Republican majority, and it tightened its grip on the state legislature, strengthening its ability to block Gov. Roy Cooper's agenda in his final two years in office.
  • Republicans held onto the most competitive state Senate seat, which is rooted in Wilmington, and flipped a Senate seat previously held by Democrats in northeastern N.C.

2. Trump didn't drag Republican Senator-elect Ted Budd down: Unlike some celebrity Senate candidates Trump backed in battleground states, Budd kept his distance from Trump and ran a lowkey and largely under the radar race that doesn't seem to have angered or motivated Democrats as Trump-backed Republicans in other states did.

  • "If you'd have told me a year ago that this was going to be a sleepy race, I would've said we're in real trouble," Democratic political operative Morgan Jackson told Axios in September. "That's not how we win these races."

3. National Democratic leaders spent less in U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley's race than they did in some other competitive Senate races. Because candidates at the top of the ticket are key to motivating voters to get to the polls, that decision that may have hurt Democrats here all the way down the ballot.

4. The state lost its only Latino state representative: After serving one term in the legislature, Democratic state Rep. Ricky Hurtado lost his state House race in Alamance County, while Latinos across the country made historic gains.

Worth noting: Fewer North Carolina voters cast ballots this year than in 2018, like most other states.

A handful of states, including key battlegrounds Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona, saw an increase in turnout, however.


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