NC Election Update

November 4, 2020

By Lexi Arthur

North Carolina has been in the national spotlight as one of the most important states to determine the outcome of the overall Congressional and Presidential elections. For that reason, Trump, Pence, Biden, Harris, and their families were campaigning across NC up until the final election day. Millions of dollars were poured into NC by outside groups trying to influence the outcome of both Congressional and State Legislative races. While the final election results will not be certain until later next week, all precincts in North Carolina had been reported by 1am Wednesday morning.


Of the 170 legislative seats in play, 97 lean Republican or Democrat by at least 10 percentage points, according to an analysis by the N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation (NCFREE). Just 33 races lean less than 5 points in either direction. For Democrats to take the majority, they needed to net five more seats in the Senate and six in the House. Despite predictions by some political analysists that Democrats would win a small majority in the N.C. House with 61 seats, and that the Senate may tie between the parties at 25 seats each, Republicans maintained their majority in both chambers.


County election boards will certify the results on November 13, and the state board will certify the entire election on November 24. If remaining absentee ballots don’t change the outcome of any races, Democrats will have a net gain of one Senate seat, leaving the chamber with 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats. Republicans will add four seats to their House majority, leaving that chamber with 69 Republicans and 51 Democrats. The Republicans still will not have a supermajority to override vetoes, which will continue the budget impasse into a year projected to have a 2.5B to $4B shortfall. Overall, the legislative preliminary election results are favorable for the employer community, especially pertaining to labor laws.


Outcomes for CRMCA’s key legislators weighed in favor of the incumbents. Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) – Co-Chair of Finance and Energy/Public Utilities Committees – has the closest race, ending election night with a narrow lead of 1.94% after all precincts were reported. However, former Senator and CRMCA advocate Wesley Meredith was defeated by incumbent Kirk DeViere (D-Cumberland) by less than 3%. Overall, the preliminary election results are favorable for the employer community, especially pertaining to labor laws. Legislators interested in continuing to help us with coal ash, mechanics lien issues, full-depth reclamation, and transportation funding will likely remain in office.


The caucuses will meet in December to elect their leaders and choose their Speaker and President Pro-Tem candidates. When the long session begins in early January, they will vote for Speaker and President Pro-Tem positions and appoint committee members and chairs. With Governor Cooper winning his re-election, Republican Mark Robinson winning the Lt. Governor seat, and Republicans maintaining the majority, the political power divide in Raleigh remains.


Numbers & Money


North Carolina has about 7.3 million registered voters. As of Monday afternoon, voters had already cast 3.6 million one-stop early voting ballots and more than 939,000 absentee ballots, according to Carolina Journal. About 149,000 absentee ballots were outstanding.


The North Carolina State Board of Elections predicted that 97% or more of all ballots cast in North Carolina will be counted and reported by the end Election Day. County election boards will certify the results on November 13. County canvasses will also handle provisional votes and absentee votes that arrive late.


According to data from Kantar Media, a market research firm which tracks broadcast ad spending, some $6.9 million was spent on N.C. Senate races, while $2.4 million was spent on N.C. House races.


Across the board, Democrats outraised Republicans in legislative races by some $3.2 million, state numbers show. Much of Democrats’ total passed through layers of state and national Democratic committees, indicating outside forces are also contributing to the effort to swing the state blue up and down the ballot. The North Carolina Democratic Party’s state committee, for example, brought in $15.3 million in the past four months, millions of which came from groups outside North Carolina.


Since July, candidates in the four most competitive state Senate races (Districts 1, 11, 24 and 31) –  also the most expensive races – had raised a combined total of more than $9.2 million, more than 20% of the total of all legislative campaigns have raised in the third quarter, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections data (does not include expenditures by independent groups on behalf of these campaigns without passing through campaign committee coffers).