Nearly a month after the election, the gubernatorial race between incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper has finally been decided.
McCrory conceded the election Monday afternoon, after a month of legal disputes and allegations of voter fraud having impacted the electoral results. Most recently, the North Carolina Board of Elections voted to have Durham County recount its votes after Republicans raised concerns about machine malfunctions on election day. Although the recount was scheduled to be completed by Monday evening, partial tabulations released Sunday indicated the recount was not going to dramatically shift the results of the election.
As of Monday morning, Cooper was leading McCrory by about 10,250 votes—a slim 0.2 percent lead. Cooper won Durham County with 79 percent of the popular vote, according to the State Board of Elections.
“Despite continued questions that should be answered regarding the voting process, I personally believe that the majority of our citizens have spoken,” McCrory said in a concession video. “And we should now do everything we can to support the 75th governor of North Carolina—Roy Cooper.”
John Aldrich, Pfizer-Pratt University professor of political science, attributed the closeness of the contest in part to McCrory's leadership when Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina.
"Cooper was ahead solidly, but the hurricane enabled McCrory to show his abilities in a non-partisan way, allowing him to stage a comeback," Aldrich explained. "And, that Clinton's get-out-the-vote work was less successful than anyone supposed made it possible for McCrory to overcome the [House Bill 2] problem he created for himself."
Aldrich also noted that provisional and absentee ballots were closely monitored during the election, because hand-counting ballots had the greatest potential for error.
Mac McCorkle, associate professor of the practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy, suggested that McCrory was beginning to feel some backlash for drawing out the race this long.
"I think it sounds like McCrory is beginning to see that it is not helping his reputation to be elongating this out," he said.
However, The Chronicle previously reported that a Cooper win is unlikely to change much in North Carolina. In another article, Aldrich commented that Republican supermajorities in the North Carolina state House and state Senate will prevent Democrats from blocking any Republican legislation.
“If [the Republican legislature] wants to do something, they can do it and there's nothing the Democrats can do to stop it essentially,” Aldrich said.
McCorkle agreed, noting that Cooper will have to work instead to focus on setting a new tone for the future of North Caroliina.
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"One thing that Governor Cooper is going to have is that he will have the ability to set a different tone for North Carolina, to present a positive alternative so that even if the Republicans might be pushing things through the legislature, Governor Cooper is going to be able to paint an alternative vision that is probably gong to be more in line with the majority of the North Carolina people," he explained.