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five remaining Republican seats are all in districts won by Bush in 2004 by over 60 percent; each would almost certainly would be won by a Republican even if the incumbent failed to run for reelection. On the other hand, five of the Democratic House seats (Districts Two, Seven, Eight, Eleven, and Thirteen) are not solidly Democratic. The incumbent Democrat in each case may be able to win reelection, but each district could switch in an open seat election, particularly in a good year for the GOP. State Elections Continuity prevailed in state elections in 2008, but just barely so in the case of the gubernatorial election. Despite Democratic victories in the past four gubernatorial elections, the contest between Bev Perdue and Pat McCrory was expected by many observers to be very competitive. McCrory had been elected mayor of Charlotte, the largest city in the state, seven times. He was seen as a pragmatic Republican who could attract moderate and independent voters. He received the endorsement of most of the major newspapers in the state. Most pundits regarded him as a good campaigner, and he convincingly defeated three more conservative candidates in the Republican primary. Lieutenant Governor Perdue had the advantage of winning statewide office twice, experience that McCrory lacked, but lieutenant governor is not a powerful office in North Carolina. She also was not regarded as a dynamic or inspiring campaigner; five debates were held between McCrory and Perdue, and the consensus was that she lost each of them. Moreover, the lengthy control of state government by Democrats was in some ways a burden for Perdue. Over the past several years, a number of scandals and episodes of mismanagement in state government elicited prominent stories in the media. Some of these events had occurred well before 2008, and Perdue was not a central figure in them, but there was an opportunity for Republicans to argue that Democrats had been in power for too long and had become corrupt. McCrory promised a change in the old way of doing things and tried to paint Perdue as someone who would continue the status quo in Raleigh. McCrory also emphasized creating a better business climate in the state, which included lowering income, business, and estate taxes.19 Perdue criticized McCrory for supporting school vouchers, claiming they would harm the public school system.20 She also ran ads arguing that McCrory would divert funds for roads in rural North Carolina to transportation projects in Charlotte; these ads may have helped her in eastern North 172 ★ Charles Prysby Carolina.21 Perdue also had more to spend on ads. Through the end of September, she raised over $15 million, compared to just $5.4 million for McCrory.22 In a year that was more favorable to Republicans, McCrory might have prevailed, but 2008 was not that year. Perdue’s source of support was very similar to that of Obama and Hagan, as we can see in Tables 10.3 and 10.4. She did better among blacks, women, lower-socioeconomic status voters, and younger voters. About 90 percent of Obama and Hagan voters also voted for Perdue. However, a comparison of support for Perdue and Hagan reveals some of the reasons why the gubernatorial race was closer. Perdue did slightly less well than Hagan among Democrats and independents and among liberals and moderates. Core Democratic groups were not quite as strong in their support for Perdue as they were for Hagan. Fortunately for Perdue, the favorable year for Democrats and the effectiveness of the Democratic campaign effort resulted in a strong turnout of Democrats. In past years, Democratic gubernatorial candidates won in spite of their party’s presidential candidate. In 2008, Perdue may have Obama to thank for her success. Continuity clearly characterized other state elections. Democrats continued to claim the majority of the council of state offices, adding the office of state auditor to increase their total to eight of the ten offices. In addition to the governor and lieutenant governor, Democrats held other important statewide offices, such as attorney general and secretary of state. After 2008, Republicans held only two council of state offices: secretary of agriculture and secretary of labor. Democratic success in these lesser statewide offices is significant not only for control of the executive branch but also because these offices are good springboards to higher offices. Democrats also maintained their control of both houses of the state legislature. The distribution of seats after 2008 was hardly different from what it...


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MARC Record
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