Commentary

Editorial: How winning the battle in NC may have cost Trump reelection

Screenshot from a speech Trump delivered in Greenville during the campaign.

As I noted in a commentary last Thursday, it’s hard not to credit a lot of the surprising success that President Trump and Republicans enjoyed in North Carolina last week to the relentless ground game they pursued (including numerous big in-person rallies) in the final weeks leading up to Nov. 3:

While Democratic diehards and other never-Trumpers flocked to cast ballots during early voting and voting-by-mail, there simply weren’t any high energy events to rouse many less passionate would-be Democratic voters – the kind of people normally targeted by big, last minute rallies and door-to-door canvassing.

From Biden on down, Democratic leaders and volunteers weren’t – quite responsibly – willing to expose themselves or the broader community to such risks.

Add to this the general – if unwarranted – skepticism brought by Trump and his base to the pandemic itself, and the explanation for the large, in-person Election Day turnout by Republican voters we saw becomes that much more obvious.

This morning, a provocative editorial at WRAL.com picks up on that argument by posing the question “Did Trump sacrifice Pennsylvania and Georgia to win in N.C.?” As the editorial explains:

From late August to the day before the election, the incumbent Republican president made 10 campaign trips to the state. His Vice President Mike Pence added another six visits. That doesn’t include the many campaign season visits by Trump’s children and cabinet members.

Over the same period, the President made just three trips to Georgia – Atlanta in late September, Macon in mid-October and Rome on Nov. 1. Trump’s campaign clearly assumed Georgia win was in the cards.

Trump did make eight visits to Pennsylvania. But, by his own admission, he didn’t think they were necessary. Pennsylvania, always viewed as a critical swing state, was in the bag for Trump. Here’s what he told a crowd in Erie at an Oct. 20 rally: “Before the plague came in, I had it made. I wasn’t coming to Erie. I mean, I have to be honest. There was no way I was coming. I didn’t have to. I would’ve called you and said: ‘Hey, Erie. You know, if you have a chance, get out and vote.’ We had this thing won.”

After explaining the ways in which the Trump team’s constant presence in the state clearly helped boost GOP candidates up and down the ballot, the editorial concludes this way:

To the degree that Republicans, up and down the ballot in North Carolina exceeded expectations, they should thank Trump.

Will Donald Trump say North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes were worth the cost of 36 other electoral votes (20 in Pennsylvania and 16 in Georgia)? Will it be worth that sacrifice to end up keeping the U.S. Senate in Republican hands? Was it worth it to add more Republicans to the state’s highest courts?

Our bet is Donald Trump’s answer would be distinctly different from that of the state’s Republicans.

In short, it’s the editorial’s conclusion that North Carolina’s loss was the nation’s gain. Click here to read the entire editorial.

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