NC's Swing State Status Continues to Take the National Spotlight

WINSTON-SALEM—North Carolina’s swing state status is having an effect on races for president, governor and Senate now more than ever.

Wake Forest University political professor John Dinan says there's no doubt, the Tar Heel State is crucial in this year's presidential election.

"North Carolina's one of only two states that shifted parties between 2008 and 2012—the only other was Indiana—so North Carolina has that history of being close and also being capable of going Republican or Democratic,” Dinan said.

Dinan says it's fascinating how both candidates have chosen to stump here at key moments.

"Donald Trump's first visit after the Republican Convention was to Winston-Salem,” he said. “Hillary Clinton's first visit back out on the campaign trail after a few days off is to Greensboro. It suggests that the Triad is a swing area."

Dinan adds that no Republican has won the race for the White House since 1956 without North Carolina in his corner, and this presidential race is no exception.

"For the Republicans, it's almost essential that they would win North Carolina if they want to see a path to victory,” Dinan said.

The state also has an interesting background when it comes to its gubernatorial races with a history of ticket splitting.

"For a long time, North Carolina actually voted differently for president than it did for governor,” Dinan said. “The gubernatorial candidates are quite conscious of that. They know that in some ways, they're fatally affected by who does well at the top of the ticket, but they have something in their control at the bottom of the ticket."

Our state Senate races also follow suit, being historically tight.

"In the last 40 years in North Carolina, there's been only one Senate race where the winner has won by more than 10 percentage points,” Dinan said. “Incumbents don't coast a victory in North Carolina in the way that they do in a lot of other states. What we've seen in Richard Burr is having to fight to keep his seat."