Up & Coming Weekly

November 17, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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8 UCW NOVEMBER 18-24, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM D.G. MARTIN, Host of UNC's Book Watch. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. JOHN HOOD, Chairman of the John Locke Foundation. Contributing Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200 OPINION Eight factors shaped North Carolina elections by JOHN HOOD Waking up as a Republican by D.G. MARTIN Over the course of 34 years penning a column on North Carolina politics and public policy, I've seen it all. Or so I thought. Until 2020 came along. It's not that I proffered a passel of bad predictions for which I must now do penance. After pegging many races wrong in 2016, I was more guarded in my prog- nostications this year. And the picks I offered — that Donald Trump would win North Carolina but not reelection, that U.S. Sen. om Tillis would secure a sec- ond term, and North Carolina Republicans would retain their General Assembly and Council of State majorities — proved to be pleasingly precise. Rather, I just think we have never before seen so many fascinating trends come together in such a com- pelling electoral performance. After pondering the election results a bit more, I have prepared a list of eight factors that helped shape the outcomes. • Polarized. Like much of the country, North Carolina has a polarized electorate. Generations ago, somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of voters were willing to split their tickets between the two major par- ties. Today, that share is in the single digits. • Parity. at doesn't mean ticket-splitters are ir- relevant. Polarization is present in places like California and Mississippi, too. But parity isn't. e Democratic base is so large in the former, and the GOP base so large in the latter, that a few percentage points of swing voters can't swing the result. In North Carolina, however, the two partisan coalitions are nearly even (by behavior, not registration). So when a few Tar Heel voters — dispro- portionately older voters in rural areas, according to my analysis of county returns and exit polls — decided to split their tickets, voting Trump and Tillis for federal office and Roy Cooper for governor, their choices were decisive. • Process. Before the election, Democrats went to court to challenge election rules the General Assembly had previously enacted by bipartisan votes. Democratic plaintiffs won an extension of the absentee-ballot dead- line but little else. If those late-arriving ballots flip any outcomes, you can expect the issue to be re-litigated. • Pandemic. Not only was COVID-19 a big issue in federal and state races, but the pandemic also affected how campaigns were run. Crucially, Republican-lean- ing groups started canvassing for votes door-to-door during the summer, while Democratic-leaning groups shied away from this time-tested tactic until the final weeks. Given that canvassing is an outdoor, low-risk activity, the Democrats blew this call, as candid Dems now admit. • Polling. Pollsters got it very wrong this year. Clearest example: while Cooper won reelection by 4.4 points, the polling average going into Election Day was +11 Cooper. • Press. Much of the media abandoned all pretense of fairness and actively rooted — in news stories — for Republicans to lose. While Trump did indeed fall short, I think attempts to suppress anti-Biden stories or cheerlead for Democrats ended up harming the media's already battered reputation. • Platitudes. At least two bits of "conventional wis- dom" ought to be retired after the 2020 elections. One is that politics is largely about money. Democrats vastly outspent Republicans in North Carolina this year but almost always fell short. Another familiar myth is that low-turnout elections favor Republicans and high- turnout elections favor Democrats. ere was no such historical pattern in North Carolina elections going into 2020. And that's not how it turned out this year, either. • Public Safety. As I observed in a prior column, Republican candidates tilted some votes by speaking strongly against the looting and rioting that followed some Black Lives Matter protests this summer. And there you have it: my eight p-factors that mat- tered in 2020. Are you persuaded? "Why so glum?" I asked a sullen group of Democrats who were expressing despair as they reviewed the results of the November 3rd elections. ey explained their gloominess. Democrats had lost seats in the state house and Senate, losing any chance to expand Medicaid or have a hand in the redistricting of seats in the state legislature and the state's congressional delegation . ey continued. Republican candidates beat Demo- crats, appearing to win the chief justice's seat and other positions on the state's Supreme Court and all the open seats on the Council of State, including the lieutenant governor's race in which an unknown and far-out Republican candidate beat an attractive, well- liked, and experienced woman state legislator. What about Biden's victory over Donald Trump? Surely this should have made my Democratic friends happy. No, they responded. It was supposed to be "a blue wave." But it was not a blowout, not even close, they said, noting that they did not even win control of the U.S. Senate and lost seats in the U.S. House. I confess that I lost my cool. I asked whether they would choose to be Republicans today rather than gloomy Democrats? Would you really like to go to bed tonight and wake up as a Republican? Maybe you could help bring that party back to its historic princi- ples which its current leadership has abandoned. More likely you would have to carry the burdens of being a member of today's Republican Party, tied as it is tightly to Donald Trump and his loyal backers, dependent on all those people's support to win primaries and elec- tions as a Republican. Like other present-day Repub- licans you would be so dependent that, you would have to subordinate your principles and good sense to a cult figure and his other followers, to their alarmist conspiracy stories, and the inaccurate "alternate facts" that they propound. If you woke up as a Republican, I said, you would be tied to a party of aging white people in a state and nation that are rapidly diversifying. You would be stuck with a vision of our country that rejects the multi- ethnic American traditions of equality and fairness for everyone, regardless of gender, racial and ethnic background, or sexual orientation. You would have to reject the American commitment of true religious liberty and respect for differing religious views. You would have to reject the true patriotism that includes respect for our history of painful battles to expand equality and opportunity without covering up our country's imperfections. You would have to put aside any continuing commitment to expanding opportuni- ties for every citizen. Our great country, I said, was not served up on a platter to or by our forebears. Every battle, including its war for independence, the end of slavery, the expan- sion of the right to vote, the opening of public schools to people of all races, the opening of public facilities to those of all different races and other battles for equality and fairness are battles that continue today. You can be happy now, I told the group, that you are free to work for a better country, supported by high ideals and carefully discovered scientific facts rather than being bound to the inconsistent and deadly poi- sons prescribed by a haughty autocrat and his incon- sistent dogma. More than that, I said, you should be happy that your party's candidates for president and vice president are on the verge of a momentous victory and North Caro- lina will soon, be joining its neighbors Virginia and Georgia in becoming a place where both Democrats and Republicans have a fair chance to win political contests. After my passionate ramblings, my friends nodded, smiled, and continued their gloomy conversations.

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