While Republican candidates across the country largely underperformed last week, North Carolina Republicans took control of the state Supreme Court, regained their majority in the state Senate and did much the same in the House of Representatives.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore is one vote away from having a supermajority in his chamber. His party flipped at least half a dozen seats Tuesday night, gaining two extra votes after accounting for seats lost in the reallocation.
Moore, R-Cleveland, believes the Republican message resonates with voters in North Carolina, particularly because of the work done by GOP lawmakers to strengthen the state’s economy.
“I mean, people who look at this, when they think about it, ‘Oh yeah, there’s all these new job postings. That’s where all these new houses are being built. This is where all these people live,'” Moore said. “Well, that’s not an accident.”
“They overdid their hand,” Moore said of the Democratic judges. “I mean, particularly in these legal matters, our poll numbers show us that, and I think the election results showed that too.”
Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer said the GOP had a better election night in North Carolina than other states because their voters turned out. Registered Republicans make up just 30% of the state’s voters, but polling shows they made up 37% of voters in the 2022 election. Bitzer said 97% of those voters voted for straight-party tickets.
“What we do know about North Carolina politics is that registered Republicans have the highest turnout since 2010,” Bitzer said. “If you can get 97% from the largest group, you already have a built-in advantage.”
Bitzer thinks this also explains the GOP’s swing over the courts. He said support for the GOP judges almost exactly matched support for Republican US Rep. Ted Budd in each county last week. Budd was the winner in the race for the state’s vacant seat in the US Senate.
“If you were loyal to Ted Budd, you voted directly Republican, and that affected the legal races, almost to the point where it was a perfect relationship between the two,” Bitzer said.
Bitzer said Democrats also have strong party allegiance, which sits at about 97%, but their constituents just haven’t been on the same level as Republicans.
As is so often the case, it all depended on who came to the elections.