Why North Carolina is set to host the biggest governor’s race of 2024


Even before the primary votes on Tuesday, North Carolina is poised to witness one of the most pivotal and financially significant gubernatorial races in the nation this fall. With Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein and Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson leading in both polls and fundraising, all eyes are on them to replace the term-limited Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

The significance of this race extends beyond North Carolina’s borders. With Republicans firmly in control of the state Legislature, there’s potential for them to secure a trifecta in November. What’s more, among the 11 gubernatorial races nationwide this year, North Carolina and New Hampshire stand out as presidential battleground states, with North Carolina expected to draw the most national attention due to its size and the infrequency of gubernatorial elections in New Hampshire.

The prospective face-off between Stein and Robinson mirrors the themes of the national 2024 campaign. Republicans aim to link Stein with President Joe Biden, whose popularity in the state is waning, while Democrats seek to portray Robinson as an extremist, particularly on issues like reproductive rights, education, and LGBTQ rights.

The narrative surrounding Robinson’s past remarks has intensified the race. He has advocated for strict abortion restrictions, suggested arresting transgender women using women’s restrooms, and made controversial statements about the LGBTQ community and the Holocaust, among other issues. Democrats have seized upon these remarks, branding Robinson as divisive and extreme.

Stein intends to make abortion rights a central issue in his campaign, positioning himself as a fighter for North Carolina values against Robinson’s perceived extremism. However, sharing the ballot with Biden, whose popularity in the state is uncertain, could pose challenges for Stein.

Trump’s recent endorsement of Robinson adds another layer of complexity. While Trump’s support could boost Robinson’s campaign, it also underscores the partisan divide in the state.

The unique role of split-ticket voters further complicates the race. Despite North Carolina’s Republican leanings in presidential elections, Democrats have historically performed well in gubernatorial races. This trend of ticket-splitting makes polling predictions challenging, indicating that the race will be closely contested.

As the campaign unfolds, both parties are strategizing to appeal to North Carolina’s diverse electorate. Stein aims to replicate Cooper’s success as a moderate Democrat who can appeal to voters across the political spectrum.

The 2024 governor’s race in North Carolina promises to be a battleground where national issues intersect with local dynamics, shaping the future of the state and possibly influencing the broader political landscape.

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