The Tar Heel State — which Barack Obama won in 2008 and Mitt Romney won in 2012 — has long looked like one of the closest swing contests in this election, according to polls.
In winning North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes, Trump has secured a victory in a must-win contest for him.
Trump won North Carolina in part because not enough black voters turned out
The Tar Heel State had long been reliably Republican in presidential years, going to the GOP in seven straight elections from 1980 to 2004. But Barack Obama won the state by 0.4 percentage points in 2008 — a sign of dramatic change.
Indeed, the state’s strong economy has led many educated whites and nonwhites who were born elsewhere to migrate to North Carolina — helping transform a red Southern state into a swing state, as Stephen Wolf has written at Daily Kos. For instance, North Carolina’s Latino population has nearly doubled since 2000 and is now around 9 percent of the state’s total population.
These new residents are more likely to support Clinton. A poll conducted in the state earlier this year found that Trump led voters with a “strong Southern accent” by 30 points, but lost among voters with “no Southern accent” — many of whom were likely born elsewhere — by a 40-point margin.
But still, to actually win the changing state, Democrats need strong turnout among the state’s black voters — and they just didn’t get it. There have been signs that turnout among black voters will likely end up significantly lower nationwide, compared with when Barack Obama was on the ballot.
This nationwide trend was coupled with North Carolina–specific shenanigans that seemed deliberately aimed at suppressing black voter turnout. In 2013, “the North Carolina legislature passed a law that cut a week of early voting, eliminated out-of-precinct voting and required voters to show specific types of photo ID — restrictions that election board data demonstrated would disproportionately affect African Americans and other minorities,” the Washington Post’s William Wan reported.