Monday, April 15, 2024

Both Trump and Biden will continue to focus on North Carolina even after Super Tuesday

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Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, who is also a Republican, have events planned for Saturday in North Carolina. This gives us a sneak peek into Trump’s plans beyond the state’s Super Tuesday primary.

North Carolina is special among the states voting on Tuesday. Even after the votes are counted, it will remain a busy place for politics. Trump is thinking about facing President Joe Biden again, and this might be the first of many visits to North Carolina. It’s an important battleground.

It won’t be easy for Trump. North Carolina, which he narrowly won in 2020, is crucial for Biden’s plan to be reelected. Biden’s team sees the state’s 16 electoral votes as something they can get, especially because the people living here are changing. It’s like an insurance plan for them, in case they face challenges in other places like Michigan.

Paul Shumaker, who has worked on many GOP victories in the state, says, “North Carolina is going to be very competitive for both sides, and no one will be able to take it for granted. It’s going to be in a constant state of flux.”

Before Super Tuesday, Trump, Haley, and Vice President Kamala Harris are visiting the state. This shows that North Carolina is becoming more and more important in the elections.

Harris said on Friday during a visit in Durham, “The president and I have been very intentional about the work that we are doing to invest in communities in many ways, including through small businesses.”

It’s been 16 years since Barack Obama won North Carolina in 2008. This was the only time in almost five decades that a Democratic presidential candidate won here. Biden’s team is less interested in the nostalgia of that victory and more excited about the opportunities in growing areas around Raleigh and Charlotte.

Since 2012, the state has gained 836,000 voters. More than a third of them are in Wake and Mecklenburg counties, and more people are moving there every day. Biden won these counties by a large margin four years ago.

Sarah Reidy-Jones has been keeping an eye on the GOP’s struggles in Charlotte during recent elections. She used to work for the Republicans in Mecklenburg County and even started a website called “Don’t Seattle My Charlotte” to express local conservative concerns about the political changes due to the state’s tech boom.

She’s not sure how long the Republicans can stay strong in North Carolina. “It’s simple math,” she explained. “Just look at how many out-of-state license plates you see around here.”

Haley believes that if Republicans choose Trump again, they might lose swing states like North Carolina. This argument has gained support for the former South Carolina governor, though it may not be enough to beat the former president.

“He can’t win a general election,” Haley declared at a rally in Charlotte on Friday, receiving loud applause.

Haley, endorsed by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, directly challenged Trump and his dismissive attitude toward her supporters. “If you don’t think you need 30 to 40% of us, you’re showing exactly why you’ll lose a general election,” she emphasized.

As the Republican primary winds down, the lessons from Haley’s votes might be crucial, not just for her but for Trump, Biden, or even a third-party candidate. Campaign advisers for Trump and Biden will closely analyze the results to plan strategies for the November election.

One important aspect is the educated voters in North Carolina. The state highlights Trump’s difficulty in gaining support from college-educated voters for his third White House bid. The number of people with at least an undergraduate degree is growing faster in North Carolina than in almost any other state.

In 2020, college-educated voters in North Carolina strongly supported Biden, and they continue to resist Trump in the GOP primaries this year. Harris, recognizing their significance in 2024, attended a training session for young campaign volunteers in Durham during her Friday visit, a region known as the Research Triangle for its proximity to tech companies and top colleges like Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

Many Republicans don’t believe North Carolina will be a major battleground, but Trump’s smaller win in 2020 compared to 2016 makes his campaign take it seriously. In 2020, he won by about 74,000 votes out of 5.4 million, a 1.3-point victory, less than half of his previous lead.

Billy Ward from the Wake County Republican Party thinks North Carolina won’t turn blue soon, but they can’t be complacent. They need to connect with every voter to keep them engaged.

Trump’s adviser Susie Wiles, when asked, didn’t directly talk about North Carolina turning blue but mentioned that the campaign is serious about all battleground states. Another adviser confirmed North Carolina is crucial, and they plan an aggressive strategy.

Trump picked Michael Whatley as the new head of the Republican National Committee from North Carolina. Local Republicans hope this shows the national party understands the state’s importance, but there are concerns about the party’s shift towards MAGA.

In the governor’s race, Trump-endorsed Mark Robinson might be nominated. He is a conservative known for divisive statements on social issues. Democrats may focus on abortion as a key campaign issue, especially with Robinson’s views and the recent abortion ban passed by Republicans in the state legislature. Robinson supports restrictions on abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, and the mother’s life.

Anderson Clayton, head of the Democratic Party in the state, is confident about her party’s chances in North Carolina. She thinks the Biden campaign is taking the state seriously. Clayton, a 26-year-old who beat experienced party leaders last year, wants to bring new energy to state Democrats.

According to Clayton, it’s not a question of whether North Carolina is leaning blue or red. She believes the state is evenly split, and they need to fight for every vote in all 100 counties.

Contrary to the idea that a growing population guarantees Democratic wins, Clayton points out that conservative voters have also moved to North Carolina, especially in the southeast.

While urban areas are growing, there’s also a migration of people from the northeast, who call themselves political refugees, moving to North Carolina.

The Trump campaign plans to attract military families in North Carolina, using arguments about the Biden administration’s impact on American forces and criticizing the president’s handling of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Another focus is unaffiliated voters, seen as true swing voters. Republicans believe they can sway them by highlighting the record number of migrants at the Southern border and the ongoing economic concerns of the state’s residents.

Ultimately, the question is whether people in North Carolina can afford their expenses and enjoy a normal life, according to Reidy-Jones.

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