Why governor’s race was called in NC on Election Day but not presidential race

CHARLOTTE — As of Friday, we still don’t have an outcome in the presidential race in North Carolina. President Donald Trump leads Joe Biden by just 76,701 votes in the state.

There is a Republican lead in the presidential race, but Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has won reelection, securing 240,524 votes over Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

There are still a little more than 150,000 provisional and absentee votes outstanding in the state.


“The difference between Gov. Cooper and Lt. Gov. Forest is so great that even if 100% of the unallocated votes went to Gov. Forest, it couldn’t make up the difference. That’s why we’ve seen North Carolina declared for the governor but not the president at this moment,” said Josh Stein, North Carolina’s attorney general.

Stein is also waiting for the final votes to be counted for his own race.

More than 130,000 voters split their ticket in North Carolina, voting for Cooper and then either voting for Trump or a third-party candidate. Another 20,599 voters did not make a selection for governor but did vote for the president.


The split-ticket voters represent 3% of the total votes cast, according to political science professor Dr. Michael Bitzer.

Stein said he’s not surprised by the split.

“They’ll vote Republican in one office and Democratic in another,” Stein said. “And that’s because a lot of people -- most people, frankly -- aren’t particularly partisan. And if you look at who the new registrants are, the majority are going to unaffiliated. They aren’t a Republican or a Democrat.”

[ELECTION 2020: How to make sure your vote counted in North Carolina]

Split ticketing isn’t new to North Carolina. Bitzer points to 2004 when former President George Bush won the state by 12 percentage points and, at the same time, voters reelected Democratic Gov. Mike Easley by 12 percentage points.

Stein said elected officials in North Carolina have a lot of work to do.

“We are a politically divided state. That puts a special obligation on elected officials to really take a step back and do a better job listening to the other side and find those areas,” said Stein.

Channel 9 asked Stein what he attributes to Cooper winning the state when Trump may also win North Carolina.

“I think it’s because Gov. Cooper has done a very steady job heading our state through the most trying times,” said Stein about the COVID-19 pandemic.