Republican Donald Trump held on to North Carolina on Tuesday, keeping a traditionally Republican swing state in the GOP column after it had backed Barack Obama in 2008 and then went narrowly for Mitt Romney four years later.
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Fox News called the state at 9:45 p.m.; with 87 percent of the vote counted, Trump had 50.8 percent of the vote.
The victory in the Tar Heel State was crucial to Trump’s hopes in cobbling together enough electoral votes to pull of an upset in a race in which most analysts believed Democratic Hillary Clinton was a heavy favorite.
Both campaigns lavished attention on North Carolina, which also featured competitive races for governor and the Senate. Obama visited the state last week in hopes of giving his former secretary of state a boost with black and young voters. Clinton also hoped to mine votes from the state’s rapidly growing Hispanic population.
Meanwhile, Trump concentrated on turning out the vote from rural areas with a stronger Republican bent.
For Clinton, winning North Carolina could have put an early end to Trump’s upset hopes. Now her supporters must hold their breath to see if she can hang on to Democratic stalwarts like Michigan.
Experts agreed that North Carolina was a more important state for him. Losing would have meant finding an additional 15 electoral votes somewhere else on the map. Early voting trends indicated the registered Republicans were casting more ballots than they did four years ago, while the Democrat vote was down.
In large part, that was because black voters appeared less enthused to support Clinton than the first black president.