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North Carolina: A crucial swing state in 2024

A state-by-state guide to the 2024 elections


State flag of North Carolina Neal McNeil / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

North Carolina: A crucial swing state in 2024

STATE STATS

Voter makeup: More than 7.4 million North Carolina residents were registered to vote as of March 16, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. The state allows voters to register as unaffiliated or with one of five political parties: Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian, and No Labels. More than 2.7 million voters are unaffiliated, while Democrats and Republicans make up the largest groups of party-aligned voters, with 2.4 million and 2.2 million voters, respectively.

Voting: Voters must show a valid form of photo identification when voting in person. The state provides natural disaster and religious exemptions for the photo ID rule. Voters may also bring their photo ID to the county board of elections within nine days after the vote if they do not have one at the polling site.

Mail-in voting is allowed as long as a photocopy of the voter’s ID accompanies the ballot. This year, mail-in ballots must be received by the end of Election Day after a new law ended a three-day grace period. Voters may also cast ballots during early voting, which is open for roughly two weeks before Election Day.

North Carolina holds open primaries, meaning unaffiliated voters may still cast a ballot but must choose either the Republican or Democratic primary.

PRESIDENTIAL

Former President Donald Trump beat Joe Biden in North Carolina by a vote of 50 percent to 48.7 percent in 2020. With its 16 Electoral College votes, North Carolina is once again a significant swing state this year.

President Joe Biden received 606,303 votes in the Super Tuesday Democratic primary, winning 87.3 percent of the vote. But 12.7 percent of voters who participated in the Democratic primary selected “no preference” as their choice.

Trump on March 5 secured 62 delegates when he won 73.9 percent of the primary vote. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley garnered 23.3 percent. Haley suspended her campaign the day after Super Tuesday.

GOVERNOR

The North Carolina governor’s election is one of the most closely watched races in the country this year as candidates seek to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Democrats have held the governor’s seat for all but four of the last 30 years. With a Republican-controlled state legislature, the GOP hopes to gain a trifecta this year. But it will be costly. The two frontrunners began the year with more than $15 million on hand combined.

  • North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, 55, won the Republican primary by 59.5 percent. Robinson was elected as the state’s first black lieutenant governor in 2020. He has run on a staunchly conservative platform and received endorsements from Trump and the National Rifle Association. He’s drawn criticism for expressing skepticism that the Holocaust was real and for quoting Hitler at a rally to make a point about reading a breadth of historical sources. Other comments have been taken out of context, like when he said he would go back to a time when women could not vote as a larger point about how Republicans advanced social change and women’s suffrage. In sermons around the state, Robinson has preached against transgenderism and LGBTQ ideology.

  • North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, 57, has served in his position since 2017. The Democrat has endorsements from Cooper and former Gov. Jim Hunt, also a Democrat. Stein has run on a pro-abortion platform, arguing that his opponent would suppress women’s rights if he won by passing pro-life laws. He also lists K-12 funding, expanding Medicaid, and combating violent crime as key priorities. He promised to raise teacher pay and expand business opportunities in the state.

  • Mike Ross won the Libertarian primary election for North Carolina governor. The financial planner is running to improve government transparency, public education, and police operations, according to his website. Wayne Turner is also running as the Green Party candidate. The party did not hold a primary election.

U.S. HOUSE

North Carolina’s U.S. House seats are currently split evenly between Democratic and Republican representatives. Nine incumbent candidates are running for reelection, and Republican Addison McDowell is running unopposed in District 6.

  • The Republican-controlled General Assembly last fall redrew the state’s congressional map, making three formerly Democrat-held seats vulnerable. As a result, Democratic Reps. Kathy Manning in District 6, Wiley Nickel in District 13, and Jeff Jackson in District 14 did not seek reelection. (Jackson is now running for state attorney general.)

  • In District 13, more than a dozen Republican candidates filed to run against the sole Democratic candidate, Frank Pierce. No Republican gained enough votes to win the March 5 primary. Front-runners Kelly Daughtry and Brad Knott will compete in a primary runoff election in May.

  • Democrat Pam Genant is set to face off against North Carolina House of Representatives Republican member Timothy Moore in the District 14 race.

SECRETARY OF STATE

  • Chad Brown, 52, won the Republican primary for secretary of state. Brown is a Christian who has served as mayor of Stanley, N.C., and on the Gaston County Commission. He is a former Major League Baseball player and said his priorities include accuracy in election results and support for small businesses.

  • Incumbent Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, 78, is the only Democratic candidate for the position. She has held the seat since 1996 and has been reelected six times. Marshall was the first woman to hold a state executive office in North Carolina.

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS

One justice, Michael R. Morgan, stepped down from the North Carolina Supreme Court in September 2023 to run for governor, but he lost his primary bid. He was one of two Democratic justices on the bench alongside five Republicans. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Democratic Justice Allison Riggs to serve the remainder of Morgan’s term, and she is running to retain the seat in the November election. Jefferson Griffin, a Republican, is a judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals and is campaigning against Riggs.

Dig deeper:

  • The Republican National Committee votes Michael Whatley and Lara Trump into party leadership

  • North Carolina lawmakers protect minors from transgender procedures and ideology

The Supreme Court rules on gerrymandering in North Carolina.


Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.


This keeps me from having to slog through digital miles of other news sites. —Nick

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