President Trump predicts that “we’re going to win North Carolina.”
The president – at a rally in Fayetteville last weekend – forecast that “we’re going to win four more years in the White House.”
Pointing to how much is at stake in the crucial general election battleground state, Trump returns to North Carolina on Thursday for his fifth trip over the past month.
President Donald Trump wraps up his speech at a campaign rally at Fayetteville Regional Airport, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Fayetteville, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
And a day ahead of him, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday makes his first stop in the state since the primaries months ago.
“North Carolina has become deeply polarized amongst 90%-95% of the electorate,” longtime Tar Heel state political scientist Michael Bitzer told Fox News.
“We’re pretty much a 45%-45% split state,” noted Bitzer, a professor and chair of the politics department at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. “Ten percent or fewer will really determine the election.”
Recent results and the latest polling proves the professor’s point.
Then-Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 by a razor-thin margin over Sen. John McCain. Four years later, GOP nominee Mitt Romney won the state’s 15 electoral votes by roughly 2 percentage points over President Obama.
Polls on the eve of the 2016 presidential election indicated Trump with a 0.8% edge over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump ended up winning the state by 3.6 points.
Fast forward four years, and an average of the latest public opinion polling in North Carolina compiled by Real Clear Politics indicates Biden with an extremely narrow 0.6% edge over the president.
Biden’s visit comes with less than six weeks to go until Election Day on Nov. 3. But voting’s already underway in North Carolina. It was the first state – starting on Sept. 4 – to start sending absentee ballots to registered voters who requested them.
The former vice president is scheduled to speak at a Black economic summit in Charlotte, the state’s largest city. And Biden's stop comes as his campaign has gone up with two new ads in North Carolina.
Both presidential campaigns are beefing up their ad buys in the state.
The White House says the president during his Thursday stop in the state is expected to outline the steps he’s taking to deliver “quality healthcare at low costs for the American people.” The president’s also expected to stop in Charlotte.
The electoral key in North Carolina, like many of the key battleground states, is the suburbs. The suburban parts of Mecklenburg County – home to Charlotte – and Wake County – home to the capital city of Raleigh – roughly split equally between Clinton and Trump in 2016. But Trump won the surrounding suburban counties by a two-to-one margin.
“What I’m going to be watching is how do those urban suburbs behave and do they tilt more Democratic than what we normally expect,” Bitzer highlighted. “And in the surrounding suburban counties, will the Republican margin of victory shrink? I think that will be an indicator.”
The president’s rally in Fayetteville last Saturday came 24 hours after the death of trailblazing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday. With just a month and a half until the election, the president is pushing to quickly confirm a conservative successor to the long-time progressive justice. His move has sparked a titanic battle between both parties and added more fuel to the already toxic electoral fire. Trump played along as his supporters chanted “fill that seat, fill that seat.”
Bitzer sees a boost for both campaigns in North Carolina, noting that “I think both sides are going to come out of this Supreme Court fight energized.”