With almost 3.7 million votes cast and a participation rate exceeding 52 percent, North Carolina voters surpassed most turnout expectations for yesterday’s midterm election. Despite the fact that no presidential, U.S. Senate or gubernatorial race appeared on the ballot, voters turned out in droves during early voting and on Election Day to support the candidates of their choice and to express their opinion on six proposed constitutional amendments.
Overall, Republicans defended their majorities in both chambers of the N.C. General Assembly, but Democrats broke the supermajority in the State House and quite possibly also in the State Senate. (We are still awaiting final vote tallies.) This means that the Republican majorities will have to work across party lines if they want to overcome the veto stamp of Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, which is certain to be inked-up and ready for use during the 2019-20 Legislative Session.
On the national level, the midterms delivered a split decision, as Democrats took control of the U.S House while Republicans built upon their majority in the U.S. Senate. This will create a split government and force both parties to reach across the aisle to achieve any policy successes. One notable exception is the confirmation of federal judicial appointments by President Trump, which must only be confirmed by the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate.
The following is a brief summary of the unofficial election results on the morning after Election Day.
U.S. CONGRESS: Incumbents won re-election to 12 of North Carolina’s 13 congressional seats, and Republican Mark Harris appears to have defeated Democrat Dan McCready in a hotly contested race for the U.S. House District 9 open seat. Harris, the former pastor of First Baptist Church, Charlotte, defeated incumbent Congressman Robert Pittenger in the GOP primary and currently holds a slim 1,860-vote margin over McCready.
N.C. SENATE: A 35-15 veto-proof Republican supermajority in the State Senate appears to have been reduced to a 29-21 majority, if the unofficial results of this morning hold. However, at least one State Senate race is likely headed to a recount. In Senate District 9, incumbent GOP Senator Michael Lee is trailing Democratic challenger Harper Peterson by only 36 votes (out of 85,847 votes cast). If a recount in this race breaks in Lee’s favor, the GOP would secure a 30-20 advantage in the Senate. Overall, four other Republican Senate incumbents lost their seats: Tamara Barringer (R-Wake) in Senate District 17; Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) in Senate District 19; Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) in Senate District 27; and Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg) in Senate District 41. Democrats also picked up an open seat in newly redrawn Senate District 16 in Wake County.
N.C. HOUSE: A 75-45 Republican supermajority in the N.C. House appears to have been trimmed down to a possible 66-54 seat GOP majority, if unofficial results stand. At least eight Republican and two Democratic incumbents appear to have lost their seats with major Republican losses in highly urban Wake and Mecklenburg counties. These losses include GOP Representatives Chris Malone (R-Wake) in House District 35, Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) in House District 36, John Adcock (R-Wake) in House District 37, Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe) in House District 93, John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg) in House District 98, Andy Dulin (R-Mecklenburg) in House District 104, Scott Stone (R-Mecklenburg) in House District 105, and Mike Clampitt (R-Swain) in House District 119. Also losing were Democratic Reps. Bobbie Richardson (D-Franklin) in House District 7; and George Graham (D-Lenoir) in House District 12. Furthermore, according to unofficial results, incumbent GOP Rep. Bill Brawley is holding on to his Mecklenburg County-based House seat by only 52 votes.
STATEWIDE JUDICIAL RACES: Democratic candidates dominated the four statewide judicial races on the ballot, taking the one available seat on the State Supreme Court and three seats on the State Court of Appeals. Democrat Anita Earls handily defeated incumbent Republican Barbara Jackson by 15 percentage points in this hotly contested race, while Democrat-turned-Republican Chris Anglin captured over 16 percent of the vote. Earls’ victory gives Democrats a 5-2 advantage on the state’s High Court. Democrats John Arrowood, Toby Hampson, and Allegra Katherine Collins also secured the three seats on the Court of Appeals. While Arrowood won by a slim 1.4 percent margin, the other two races saw a greater margin of victory partially due to the vote being split between three candidates instead of two. You can review the responses of Anita Earls, Toby Hampson, and Allegra Katherine Collins on NC Family’s candidate questionnaires on the Judges page of NC Family’s Voter Guide website at NCFamilyVoter.com.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: North Carolina voters gave approval to four of the six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. Proposals to “Protect the Right to Hunt and Fish,” “Strengthen Victims Rights,” set a “Maximum Tax Rate of 7.0%,” and to “Require Photo ID to Vote” all passed by over an 11 point margin. Proposals to establish a “Nonpartisan Judicial Merit Commission” and a “Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections” both failed by substantial margins. To learn more about what these provisions will do, be sure to read NC Family’s article, “Upcoming Constitutional Amendments—What You Need To Know.”
Just a quick reminder that this review is based upon unofficial election results provided on the State Board of Elections website the morning after Election Day. Stay tuned, as NC Family will be providing further details as recounts take place and official election results become available.