Ah, North Carolina, lean-red battleground state that we win only when we don’t need it. Or put another way, if we’ve gotten North Carolina in a presidential contest, we already got everything else we need to win.
It doesn’t have to be that way. By demographics, North Carolina is a lean-blue to blue state. And as of now, it’s the only realistic pickup opportunity for Joe Biden in 2024. He only lost it by a single point in 2020. The next closest state was Florida—a three-point loss, but trending against us. The third closest loss? Texas, at about 5.5%. It drops off steeply after that—Ohio and Iowa were both eight-point losses, then South Carolina at nearly 12 points.
On the other hand, we have to defend close victories in Georgia (0.23%), Arizona (0.3%), Wisconsin (0.6%), Pennsylvania (1.16%), Nevada (2.39%), and Michigan (2.78%). (Following that there’s a big dropoff to Minnesota’s 7% victory). Republicans have a lot of places to claw back electoral votes, we realistically have North Carolina. Florida isn’t going to be determinative for the Democrats anytime soon. It would be a nice “cherry on top” to have, but if we win it, we’ve won everything else we need to win.
North Carolina is a different story. It’s very feasible we lose Georgia (16 electoral votes) or Arizona (11 electoral votes), and we make it up with North Carolina’s 16 electoral votes. It’s not a “nice to have” state, it’s a “we have to fight hard for it” state. Luckily for us, local Republicans are doing everything possible to give Democrats a fighting chance.
Nothing has given Tar Heel Democrats a bigger shot in the arm than ramming through an unpopular abortion ban, aided and abetted by the betrayal of a turncoat Democrat in a solidly Democratic district, and three Republicans who promised during their campaigns to uphold abortion rights.
Our Civiqs abortion track shows that 56% of North Carolina voters want abortion to be legal in all or most cases, with 41% wanting strong restrictions. In fact, just 10% of the state’s voters want abortion to be illegal in all cases, yet that’s what the Republican candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, is campaigning on.
Or at least, that’s what he was campaigning on. Suddenly, as of early May, he’s gotten a bit gun-shy:
"I'm not interested in talking about abortion anymore. What I'm interested in talking about now is how we're going to make life better for folks after they're born — saving lives in the womb and then enhancing those lives once those lives come into the world. I'm tired of talking about abortion. I don't want to talk about it anymore," Robinson said.
The 54-year-old Greensboro native has previously likened abortion to "murder," and in February, told a radio talk show he would support a total ban on abortion with no exceptions "for any reason."
Too late to try and be coy. He doesn’t get to stop talking about the thing that voters clearly want to talk about, and vote on. As we’ve seen all over the country, including in red states like Kansas and Kentucky, pro-choice voters are far more motivated to turn out and vote on the issue. Note that we won the abortion referendum in Kansas by 18 points, despite the Civiqs polling showing Kansas voters are split 49-47 on the issue, in favor of abortion rights. In Kentucky, an anti-abortion referendum lost by 4.7%, yet the polling gives the anti-choice side a 52-44 advantage.
But taking away rights is not all Republicans are doing to motivate base Democratic voters to the polls. They’re now going after the state’s premier spiritual leader:
Calling the Dr. Rev. William Barber a “poverty pimp” is beyond grotesque. And its choice for the fringe MAGA conservatives clearly in charge of the state party to reference the USSR, when it is Republicans doing what they can to carry water for Vladimir Putin and today’s Russia.
Regardless, it bears wondering exactly what they think they’re communicating here. Do they think there’s a subset of North Carolina undecided or swing voters who will see this kind of attack on a reverend, and then freak out over Sen. Bernie Sanders? It’s the opposite—it underscores how out-of-touch state Republicans are, trapped in their own bubble, speaking gibberish to each other as swingy suburban voters flinch at their hate and bigotry.
Barber and Sanders are touring North Carolina calling for raising the minimum wage—the horror. Yet North Carolina Republicans seem incapable of debating issues without falling back on racism.
“There are only a few terms they could have picked that would have been more demeaning,” [Democratic House Minority Leader Robert Reives] told The N&O in an interview.
“It’s incredibly diminishing of his work. It’s amazing they could reduce all his work to one of the most diminishing terms that could be used for Black men in this country’s history,” he said. “I would say this is even worse than Jeff McNeely’s comments.”
He was referring to a comment made May 17 by state Rep. Jeff McNeely, a Republican from Stony Point. While speaking on the House floor, McNeely, who is white, asked Democratic state Rep. Abe Jones , who is Black, if he would have succeeded at Harvard University had he not been “an athlete or a minority.” Last week, McNeely resigned from his House leadership position due to his comments.
Reives told The News & Observer Thursday to “emphasize how angry I am,” he described the usage of the word “pimp” as “pointed and racist.”
Barber, classy as always, didn’t return the insults, choosing instead to refocus people’s attention on his cause: