In case you missed it a few weeks back, veteran political analysts of the Center for American Progress published a lengthy report on what the Democratic presidential nominee will need to do to defeat President Trump in next year’s electoral college battle entitled “The Path to 270 in 2020.” It’s an interesting read that features a state-by-state analysis and a generally optimistic air. Here is what it had to say about North Carolina:
North Carolina: 15 electoral votes
Trump won North Carolina by just less than 4 points in 2016. This follows Romney’s narrow 2-point win over Obama in 2012 and Obama’s even narrower victory by one-third of a percentage point in 2008. All these performances were dramatically better for the Democrats compared with losing the state by 12 points in 2004 and 13 points in 2000.
Republicans continued to dominate the state in 2018, though Democrats made some progress. Republicans did relatively less well in the House popular vote, narrowly winning it by less than 2 points, but they succeeded in holding on to all GOP-held House seats. But Democrats flipped a net of 16 state legislative seats and broke Republican supermajorities in both chambers. This is of considerable significance because North Carolina’s governor is currently a Democrat.
These trends give the Democrats hope they can take the state in 2020. The Trump campaign, on the other hand, is well prepared to defend North Carolina’s 15 electoral voters—essential for their coalition—even though Trump’s current net job approval rating in the state of -3 is edging into danger territory.
North Carolina’s large nonwhite population accounted for 28 percent of voters in 2016. As in Georgia, Blacks in North Carolina dominate the nonwhite vote, representing 22 percent of all voters, compared with 3 percent for Hispanics and 3.5 percent for Asians and other races. Blacks supported Clinton by 76 points; Hispanics by 15 points; and Asians/other races by 2 points. White college graduates in North Carolina, who represented 28 percent of voters, supported Clinton—but it was close, giving her a 4-point advantage (49 percent to 45 percent). On the other hand, white noncollege voters—43 percent of the voting electorate—gave Trump a whopping advantage of 51 points (74 percent to 23 percent).
We expect white noncollege eligible voters in 2020 to decline more than 2 points relative to 2016, while white college graduates should go up very slightly. Hispanics should increase by a point; Black eligible voters by half a point; and Asians/other races also by half a point. If 2016 voting patterns remain the same, these underlying demographic changes in the eligible electorate would be enough to reduce the Democratic candidate’s projected 2020 deficit in the state by almost 2 points.
As with Georgia, given the relative closeness of Trump’s victory in 2016 plus the projected effect of demographic change, Trump probably needs to go beyond holding his 2016 levels of group support. Increasing his margin among white college-educated voters by 10 points would yield a 5-point victory in 2020, all else equal, while increasing his already-huge lead among white noncollege voters by the same amount would project to a 6-point margin.
For the Democratic candidate, the Black vote, as in Georgia, will have great importance. If Black turnout in 2020 matches 2012 levels (there was a large decline in 2016) that would actually project to a Democratic victory of just less than a percentage point, all else equal. Matching Black support to 2012 levels would further boost the Democrats’ margin. A 10-point pro-Democratic margin shift among North Carolina’s liberalizing white college-graduate population—going from +4 to +14—would project to a narrow victory of the same magnitude as the increased Black turnout scenario. Decreasing Trump’s very large margin among white noncollege voters by 10 points would project to a larger victory.
Click here to read the entire report.