The independent news organization of Duke University

Trump, Tillis lead in NC with race still too close to call

North Carolina’s presidential and U.S. Senate races remain too close to call as of Wednesday morning, according to the Associated Press, but President Donald Trump holds a lead over former Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential race, while Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has the edge in the race against Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham. 

The North Carolina Board of Elections’ unofficial statewide results showed as of 9:10 a.m. that Trump had won 49.98% of the vote and Biden had won 48.57%. Tillis had 48.73% to Cunningham’s 46.94%. As of 9:10 a.m., The New York Times estimates that 95% of votes have been reported.

Democrats hold an overwhelming lead in Durham County. Biden had 80.56% of counted votes in the county and Trump had 17.96%. Cunningham had won 77.59% of votes and Tillis had won 18.98%.

Meanwhile, Democrats flipped two U.S. House seats in North Carolina after recent redistricting. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper won reelection, while Republican Mark Robinson was elected the state’s first Black lieutenant governor. 

Thom Tillis declared victory in the Senate race late Tuesday, even though the race has not been called. Cunningham had not yet made an appearance or spoken by late Wednesday morning.

Nationally, the presidential contest remains in limbo as of early Tuesday, with other key states including Georgia and Pennsylvania yet to be called. Duke professors told The Chronicle before the election that final results could take some time

According to a Sunday release from the state Board of Elections, votes counted and reported on election night include all in-person one-stop early votes, all mail-in absentee votes received by Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. and all Election Day votes. They do not count provisional ballots, which will be “researched post-election to determine voter eligibility,” or mail-in ballots received after 5 p.m. on Nov. 2, the release stated.

Mail-in ballots in North Carolina will be accepted until Nov. 12 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

The release added that election night results are always unofficial. Ten days after the election, all counties will canvass, or certify, the results—including provisional and absentee votes that arrive after Election Day—and the state board of elections will audit and certify final election results Nov. 24.

This election year saw record early-voting turnout and casting of mail-in ballots. As of Sunday morning, more than 4.5 million absentee ballots had been cast, which is about 61.7% of registered voters in the state. Early in-person voting, which ended Oct. 31, made up more than 3.6 million ballots.

Every Tuesday, for the last five weeks before Election Day, county election boards have been reviewing mail-in ballots. Board members check whether each envelope is signed by the voters in the correct place and whether the witness signed and printed their name in the correct place with their address. Unlike 31 other states, North Carolina does not require the board to compare the voter’s signature with a previous signature on file in other documents.

In Durham County, which contributed 162,338 absentee ballots to the state total, registered Democrats cast 54% of absentee ballots. Statewide, registered Democrats cast 37.4% of absentee ballots, Republicans cast 31.7% and unaffiliated voters cast 30.3%.

Of the 1,054 absentee ballots in Durham County that were not accepted as of Nov. 1, 48.7% were cast by Black voters and 30.8% were cast by non-Hispanic white voters or white voters with undesignated ethnicities. According to FiveThirtyEight, the majority of ballots were rejected because voters made a mistake or failed to fill out the witness information. This could be because of challenges faced by first-time mail voters, reflecting systemic issues with access to voting for disadvantaged communities. 

This is a developing story and will be updated if new information becomes available. 

Editor's note: This story was updated Wednesday morning to note that Tillis had declared victory in the Senate race, even though it has not been called.

Mona Tong

Mona Tong is a Trinity senior and director of diversity, equity and inclusion analytics for The Chronicle's 117th volume. She was previously news editor for Volume 116.


Share and discuss “Trump, Tillis lead in NC with race still too close to call” on social media.