With North Carolina holding a place on a shrinking list of battleground states for Election 2016, Wake Forest University Professor of Politics John Dinan can explain the historical context behind its swing state status and this year’s close presidential, senate and gubernatorial races.

Dinan can discuss N.C. voting patterns over the past two decades for these offices.

“Although there are links in voters’ behavior in presidential, senate, and governor elections, with most voters casting a straight-party ballot, a review of North Carolina election results since 1996 indicates that voters have engaged in some ticket-splitting.”

Presidential contests: Republicans have captured North Carolina’s electoral votes in all but one of the five elections since 1996 (with Barack Obama’s election in 2008 standing as the lone exception) and by a net margin of just over six percentage points.

Senate contests: Republicans have won all but two of the seven elections since 1996 (with victories by John Edwards in 1998 and Kay Hagan in 2008 standing as the two exceptions) and by a narrow net margin of three percentage points.

Gubernatorial contests: Democrats have won all but one of the five elections since 1996 (with Pat McCrory’s 2012 victory serving as the sole exception) and by a net margin of just under five percentage points.

“Recent North Carolina elections have generally been quite competitive, certainly more competitive than in many other states. Only six of the state’s presidential, senate, and governor races in the last two decades were decided by a double-digit margin, and many were decided by fewer than five percentage points. In focusing on the different offices, Republicans have generally enjoyed a modest advantage in presidential races and a slimmer advantage in senate races, while Democrats have held a modest advantage in governor races.”

Wake Forest University is located in Forsyth County, recently tagged by Politico as one of the top 25 battleground counties in the country. Dinan can also provide the swing county within a swing state perspective.

Dinan closely follows U.S. and North Carolina political races. He teaches courses on campaigns and elections, state politics and congress and policymaking. He frequently provides commentary for the Associated Press, the Economist, the Charlotte Observer and other news outlets across the country. He is the author of The American State Constitutional Tradition and an annual review of state constitutional developments in the 50 states, as well as numerous articles on state and federal politics.

For additional sources, see Wake Forest's Election 2016/Faculty Experts guide.


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About Wake Forest UniversityWake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at www.wfu.edu.