The past sixty years of Oval Office history reinforces why North Carolina is a must-win for Donald Trump.
1956 the last year a Republican took the White House without winning North Carolina
Not since 1956 with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. president, has a Republican nominee won a general election without carrying North Carolina.
So, Trump’s recent rebound in North Carolina polls significantly revives his overall hope. His campaign’s recent announcement the candidate will spend Election Day eve in North Carolina shows Trump’s team understands how critical the state is to his success.
“For Donald Trump to have any shot at the White House, his electoral college path must take him through North Carolina,” says Michael Bitzer, the state’s resident elections data guru and author of “Old North State Politics” blog.
Bizter, who is provost at Catawba College, where he teaches political science, says North Carolina’s played host this year to a “social scientist’s dream.”
He describes North Carolina’s scene like “a controlled experiment where one candidate (Clinton) has an aggressive and well-developed ground game operation in conjunction with the state party, while the other candidate (Trump) is almost completely dependent on the state party’s infrastructure.”
Although Clinton and Trump have different strategies – both of their game plans have required frequent North Carolina visits.
The Charlotte Observer recently tracked Clinton and Trump’s campaign visits to North Carolina.
Since late June, the state has hosted weekly at least one – sometimes both – candidates, with only one exception: the week of Sept. 18. Then, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts asked the campaigns to stay away as North Carolina’s largest city dealt with protests and violence in its streets, stemming from the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott.
The candidates have shown up often because Republicans know North Carolina is key to a White House victory and Clinton’s campaign wants to make the state a “roadblock” for Trump, says David McLennan, political science professor and pollster at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Without North Carolina, Donald Trump’s campaign has to find a new route to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
David McLennan, North Carolina political pollster
Rated a toss-up state for most of the 2016 campaign cycle, North Carolina has just a short history as a swing-state. Its electoral votes have gone to Democratic nominees only two times in the past 12 presidential elections.
Much of the state’s recent political shift comes from it’s changing electorate: The state’s population growth since 2000 is nearly double the average rate of the rest of the country, with much of the boom happening in Democratic-leaning metro areas.
Those changing voter demographics help explain how North Carolina posted the second-closest results in the past two presidential elections – helping propel President Barack Obama into his first term but then swinging back to Republicans four years later.