Since turnout in 2016 was higher than in 2012, the Democrats’ backslide in registration could force the party to rely on independent and crossover voters, more so than usual, to achieve victory.
Wayne King, a partner at Fidelis Government Relations who until recently served as a top congressional aide to now-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told Breitbart News that in as competitive of a state as North Carolina, elections were decided, in part, on turnout.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult for [Democrats] to increase voter turnout. They were at an all-time high in 2016 in the suburbs,” he said. “Then you have urban areas that also were an all-time high in 2016, so they really have nowhere to go, in my opinion. Where do they get their voters from this time?”
King added Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, seemed to be coming to the same conclusion, as evidenced by recent efforts to engage rural voters across the state.
“You’ve got Dr. Jill Biden, the former vice president’s wife, coming to North Carolina, going into rural communities,” King said. “They obviously are trying to make a play for that to expand their electorate, but they’re going to have to up their game. Rural voters are Trump voters.”
That strategy, though, is fraught with risk. In 2016, Trump won the state’s rural voters handily over Clinton. Exit polling from the race shows that 58 percent of rural North Carolinians voted for the president, compared to only 39 percent for Clinton.
More importantly, however, if Democrats are scouring for votes in rural communities, it draws into question their standing among independent and non-affiliated voters. Four years ago, Trump carried North Carolina on his way to the presidency because of better than expected support from such voters.
On Election Day 2016, non-affiliated voters made up nearly a third of the state’s 6.9 million voter population. Exit polling from the race
shows that Trump carried 53 percent of North Carolina’s self-identified independents, compared to only 37 percent for Clinton. Trump’s pull among independents in North Carolina was higher than the 46 percent, to Clinton’s 42 percent, that he garnered among the demographic nationally.
Since 2016, the growth in North Carolina voters registering as non-affiliated has dwarfed the number of Republican and Democrat registrants. Between
Election Day 2016 and October of this year, more than 336,000 individuals registered as non-affiliated in North Carolina.
Rep. Greg Murphy, a Republican running for reelection to North Carolina’s Third Congressional District, told Breitbart News that independents would be pivotal in deciding who wins the state this cycle.
“I think that elections are won, not only in North Carolina, but across the country, by independent voters,” the congressman said. “Independent voters are those that don’t want to be identified with one party or another. They say, ‘Hey, I’m my own person. I want to look at individuals, and that’s how I’ll make my vote.'”
The congressman added that the Republican message under Trump, which has focused on law and order and the economy, was geared to appeal to such voters.
“You have to look at what people want when they wake up in the morning,” Murphy said. “They want safety, security; they want to be able to put food on their table and live their lives. They don’t get caught up in the emotional nonsense … and that’s what the Republican Party has promised.”
On the issue of security, in particular, Murphy argued that independent voters, specifically suburban women, were unlikely to embrace the Democrats under Biden because of the response the party has had to the protests and riots that have swept across the country since earlier this year.
“If you look at suburban women, the soccer moms, those who are concerned about their family’s safety and security, especially for their children, they’ve seen what the left has promised them,” Murphy said. “We’ve seen Democrats tell law enforcement to stand down so rioters could just destroy parts of our cities, we’ve seen that across the nation.”