Political expert: HB2 may have cost McCrory the election

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Although the gubernatorial race hasn’t been officially called yet, Democratic challenger Roy Cooper has already claimed victory over incumbent Pat McCrory.

One political expert said you don’t have to go too far to see what may have cost McCrory the election.

“North Carolina voters knew that McCrory was responsible for HB2 and the loss of jobs for certain parts of the state of North Carolina,” said ECU Political Science professor Jonathan Morris.

Morris said one of the key reasons Donald Trump did so well in North Carolina was his promise to bring jobs back to the state. Morris said it’s that very argument that could have doomed McCrory, who heavily favored over Cooper before HB2.

Looking at the data, McCrory and Trump drew comparable numbers in several key counties. In Pitt County, Trump got 44.49% of the vote, whereas McCrory got 46.06%. In Guilford County, Trump carried 38.16%, while McCrory got 37.02% of the vote.

In Wake County, Trump got 37.23% of the vote, while McCrory got 37.92% in his race. In Mecklenburg County, Trump received 32.9% of the vote, while McCrory got 34.17%.

But when digging deeper, the two counties that hurt McCrory the most were Wake and Mecklenburg. During his 2012 campaign, McCrory carried 49.46% of the vote in Mecklenburg County, and 48.66% in Wake County. Both of those numbers dropped considerably in 2016.

“In the governor’s race the tipping point came from Charlotte and Mecklenburg county, absolutely,” Morris said. “In a race that close, you could definitely point to a few spots.”

Guilford, Wake and Mecklenburg Counties have seen some of the largest hits due to HB2, with NBA, NCAA and ACC events all cancelled in the locations.

One state employee who works in the governor’s office told WNCT she voted for Donald Trump, but not her current boss, Pat McCrory. She cited HB2, saying the law cost the state too many jobs, and while McCrory took a stand, he did so at the state’s expense.