Will NC Become a Swing State?


There are very few people out there who are willing to call presidential elections with absolute certainty. However, with America’s electoral system the way it is, we can often call how many of the state elections will go. Red states will go for the Republican Party, blue ones for the Democrats. 

But then there is the elusive swing state – a state that is neither blue nor red and could go either way. Could we North Carolinians be voting in a swing state for the next presidential election?

While no one can say with certainty exactly how the people of North Carolina will vote one year from now, much less three years from now, experts are noticing trends that are putting North Carolina on the map as a purple state. Let’s take a closer look at those trends and whether they will continue. 

Population Changes

The world has changed a lot in the last 20 or so years. But it’s not just the world around North Carolina that is changing how the state votes. It’s also about how the people of North Carolina have changed. 

Knowing who makes up a bigger portion of the population is a key part of understanding voting patterns. After all, voters who learn about the world from a progressive news outlet are going to vote differently from people who purely get their news from conservative outlets. 

So, what does the current electorate look like now and how will that change? Here’s what you need to know. 

Population Growth

In the last 20 years, North Carolina’s population has been on a steady increase and is the fifth-fastest growing state. This isn’t because people are having more children. On the contrary, the birth rate is down. Instead, migration is the driving factor.

As people come to North Carolina for its booming industry, particularly in the pharmaceutical field, we have more newcomers to the state who might think and vote a little differently than those who have been here their entire lives. 

Demographic Shifts

Along with population growth, what the population looks like is changing. There are two things to note about the changing demographics:

  • More people are living in urban areas.
  • There is a larger percentage of non-white people.

As the population becomes located in cities and more ethnically diverse, there are likely to be more votes for the Democrats as these populations tend to vote blue. If these trends continue, Democrats may gain a stronger foothold in the state, turning it purple if not blue. 

However, these are not a given. Those who live in cities or are not white are not guaranteed to vote for the Democratic Party. Even more important, they are not guaranteed to vote at all. These trends would need to continue and Democrats would need to appeal to voters to bring in more blue votes. 

Political Divisiveness

Another factor driving blue votes is that the Democrats are becoming more liberal.

Decades ago, the Republican Party was able to gain votes from some moderate Democratic voters who might swing their vote. But with social media driving Republicans to be more conservative and Democrats to be more liberal, there is less of a question as to how registered voters would choose a candidate when they vote. 

And with more Democrats than Republicans in the state, perhaps Democrats can use this to their advantage and win over the independent voters.  

North Carolina on the National Stage

North Carolina went blue in 2008 for Obama but has voted red in the subsequent three presidential elections. But with changing demographics, the state could become a more contentious swing state in coming election cycles. Unfortunately, no one can tell the future, so all we can do is wait and watch.