NORTH CAROLINA
     Nov. 3, 2020 Governor

Gov.
Sen.3
Sen.2
2020


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+Roy Cooper (D)
2,834,790
51.52%
Dan Forest (R) 2,586,605
47.01%
Steven DiFiore (L) 60,449
1.10%
Al Pisano (C) 20,934
 0.38%

5,502,778

Registration:  Dem. 2,626,740 (35.64%)   Rep. 2,233,542 (30.30%)   Unaff. 2,456,123 (33.32%)   Lib. 46,509 (0.63%)  Const. 4,668   Grn. 3,647  Total 7,371,229.
Ballots cast:  5,545,848.
Margin of victory:  248,185 votes (4.51 percentage points).

 NC State Board of Elections



Notes:
This was the marquee governor's race of the 2020 cycle.  North Carolina also saw intense campaigns for president, U.S. Senate and judicial positions; there were also three open U.S. House seats.  In short, there was a lot happening in the political realm in the Tar Heel State.
 
Challenging Gov. Roy Cooper (D) were Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R), an architect by profession, elected in 2012, as well as Steven DiFiore (L) and Al Pisano (C).  The March 3 gubernatorial primaries were not competitive
.  Gov. Cooper obtained 87.19% of the vote and Lt. Gov. Forest 88.95%.  Shortly thereafter the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent.

In late May North Carolina's handling of the pandemic came to national attention.  Charlotte was scheduled to host the 2020 Republican National Convention in late August; planning had been underway for months.  Ignoring the ongoing pandemic and physical distancing guidelines, President Trump insisted officials must guarantee convention goers would be able to fill the Spectrum Arena.  On June 2, Trump tweeted "we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention."

Cooper's handling of the pandemic dominated the only debate, held between Cooper and Forest on Oct. 14 in studio at UNC-TV in Raleigh (>).  The one-hour event,
produced in association with the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation and moderated by former WCTI-TV anchor Wes Goforth, had one-minute opening statements, one-minute responses to questions, 30-second rebuttals, and 90-second closing statements. 

The contrast between the two candidates on the pandemic was stark.  Cooper made a blistering opening statement:

"...Today, our world is different. This debate is different. The global pandemic has turned our lives upside down and killed over 215,000 Americans. And tonight's different because of the Plexiglas that's separating Dan Forest and me. And it's there because for the last eight months, including last night, Dan Forest has been having in-person events with no masks or social distancing. That's reckless and it endangers North Carolinians including the staff in this room. Leaving our neighbors in harm's way and risking lives, that's not the North Carolina way; overcoming challenges and taking care of one another that's the North Carolina that I know..."
 
Forest made standard opening statement, but in response to the first question he said:

"...Masks is a great cover for what he really doesn't want to talk about, the over a million and a half people that he has left unemployed, the thousands of businesses that have been shut up, the thousands of businesses that will never reopen again, suicide and addiction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and anxiety, depression, you name it, that's wreaking havoc on our state, all over from one end of North Carolina, to the next. So there's a lot of things in Governor Cooper's record that he just doesn't want to tell you so he spends a lot of time talking about masks..."


According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics (>),
the race was not competitive financially; Cooper outraised Forest by $40.3 million to $11.6 million.
 

Cooper won with a plurality of 248,185 votes (4.51%), but Republicans achieved successes in other races.  Trump carried the state's 15 electoral votes with a plurality of 74,483 votes (1.34%) and Tilllis won by 95,663 votes (1.75%). 
Moore carried four counties also carried by Trump—Granville, Lenoir, Martin and Scotland.  Other statewide races were close as well.  Ultimately, in addition to the office of Governor, Democrats won Attorney General, Auditor and Secretary of State, while Republicans won Lt. Governor, Commissioners of Agriculture, Insurance and Labor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Treasurer.  Republicans swept the three Supreme Court races and five Court of Appeals races, winning the Supreme Court Chief Justice seat by just 401 votes.  Republicans also thwarted efforts by Democrats and their allies to gain control of one or both chambers of the State Legislature. 
   
Of the two third party candidates, Libertarian Steven DiFiore ran a well organized campaign highlighting an interesting mix of specific  proposals—including reforms to occupational licensing laws, Certificate of Need laws, and North Carolina's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission—and broader themes including people's need to earn a living during the pandemic and local control.  Excluded from the debate and often ignored in media coverage, Fiore managed a bit over 1 percent of the vote.


Campaign Managers
:
Roy Cooper: Trey Nix

Principal at Lamar Street Communications.   Campaign director for the Democratic Governors Association in the 2018 cycle. Campaign manager on Roy Cooper's 2016 win over Gov. Pat McCrory.  Campaign manager on U.S. Sen. Mark Warner's (VA) 2014 re-election campaign.  Campaign manager on Aneesh Chopra's 2013 campaign for lieutenant governor of Virginia.  Campaign manager on Paul Hirschbiel's challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell in VA-2 in 2012.  Originally from Alabama.

Dan Forest: Hal Weatherman
Former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and campaign manager of his 2012 and 2016 campaigns.  Long-time chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick; ran eight of Myrick's re-election campaigns. Master's degree in communications from Wheaton College, 1993; B.A. in religion from Wake Forest University, 1991.








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