North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper makes a comment during a live televised debate with and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest at UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) Election 2020 Governor North Carolina
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper makes a comment during a live televised debate with and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest at UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Biden or Trump? Cooper or Forest? Blue or red? Look here for up-to-date news and analysis on North Carolina’s historic 2020 election. 

Our live blog here will offer up-to-the-minute updates on these races and more as we approach Election Day on Nov. 3. We’ll offer not only the latest numbers, but analysis to help you understand what it all means. 

Early voting began Thursday, Oct. 15 and will run through Oct. 31. But for more information on voting, head over to Cardinal & Pine’s landing page for voter information, providing crucial news on voting litigation, voting procedures, and testimonials from voters just like you. 

Happy voting!

Congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn criticized for race-baiting website

Madison Cawthorn
Madison Cawthorn, a western NC candidate for Congress. (Image via Cawthorn’s campaign)

[updated Oct. 23, 2020] North Carolina Congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn is in the headlines again, and not because of any robust debate of the issues.

Cawthorn is apologizing after political news site The Bulwark reported Thursday that Cawthorn’s campaign had created a race-baiting website attacking his opponent for associating with a journalist who wants to “ruin white males.”

The journalist in question is former Miami Herald Pulitzer-winner Tom Fiedler. Cawthorn’s website claimed that his opponent in the 2020 election, Democrat Moe Davis, is associating with Fiedler, who writes for the nonprofit news outlet AVL Watchdog. Fiedler is being criticized, bizarrely, because he reportedly volunteered for former presidential candidate Cory Booker, citing a desire to support a more diverse field of candidates in American politics.

“He quit his academia in Boston to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office,” the screen shot initially said of Fiedler, before Cawthorn’s campaign changed it.

That’s hard to unpack. So we’ll let Cawthorn attempt to do so.

Waynesville newspaper The Mountaineer reported Friday on Cawthorn’s apology. 

“It was a major syntax error that was not clear that we were quoting him,” Cawthorn reportedly told The Mountaineer. “Without context, that looks awful. At the end of the day, the buck stops with me. I should have read deeper into the website. At the end of the day, someone on my staff, not exactly sure who, made a mistake. I did approve the … website. I wish I had gone back and really read that and said, ‘Hey this could be ripped out of context.’”

Cawthorn is a western NC Republican who became nationally known in the spring after he defeated President Trump’s candidate in the GOP primary for the US House of Representatives District 11. 

Cawthorn, who spoke at Trump’s Republican National Convention in August, has been accused of sexual assault, as well as sexually aggressive behavior by multiple women, claims Cawthorn has denied. He also drew scrutiny over a series of bizarre social media posts from 2017 that referred to a visit to Adolf Hitler’s vacation home as a “bucket list” item.   

North Carolina Getting Its Vote on

[Updated Oct. 20, 2020] Good job filling out those ballots, fellow North Carolinians.  

Nearly 2 million people have already cast their ballots in the state just a week into the 17-day early voting season, according to numbers released Tuesday by the State Board of Elections.  

That means one out of every four registered voters has already voted by mail or at early voting sites with two weeks to go until Election Day on Nov. 3.

That shatters the turnout in 2016 (when, of course, there wasn’t a pandemic going on in the background.)

Still need to cast your ballot? It’s pretty easy to do right now, you still have time to request an absentee ballot by mail from your county elections board. Or you can look up early voting sites as well, and you can both register to vote and vote.

Curbside voting is an option for those unable to physically head into a polling place to cast, whether because of disability or age or if someone is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or is at high-risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19.

Then, there’s Nov. 3, Election Day, where you can head down to your polling place and cast your ballot for your preferred candidates.

Biden in NC: ‘Americans Don’t Panic. Donald Trump Panics.’

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak during a campaign event at Riverside High School in Durham, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

[updated Oct. 19, 2020] Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made his latest pitch to North Carolina voters Sunday, shredding President Donald Trump over his handling of the novel coronavirus.

“The president has known how bad this virus would be since January and he hid it from you,” Biden told a crowd of socially distanced supporters outside Durham’s Riverside High School, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “His excuse is that he didn’t want Americans to panic. Americans don’t panic. Donald Trump panics.”

Although he has often touted his January call to restrict travel to China, misrepresenting it as a “ban,” the president has been roundly criticized for his delayed response to the virus and inconsistent messaging about COVID safety.

As multiple outlets noted Sunday, Biden’s audience in Durham was asked to remain in their cars, noting their support for the candidate’s comments by honking their car horns.

Biden told his audience Sunday that he would continue to build on the Affordable Care Act, the nation’s benchmark health care law, and back Medicaid expansion in NC, a mostly federally-funded component of the ACA that would extend health insurance to hundreds of thousands of low-income North Carolinians if cleared by state lawmakers. Many consider the ACA, the signature achievement of former President Barack Obama, to be facing its toughest test when the US Supreme Court hears a GOP challenge to the law just days after the election.

If the conservative-leaning court overturns the law, as President Trump has called for, it could revoke health insurance for hundreds of thousands in NC and impact care for millions with pre-existing medical conditions.

“The very soul of our nation is at stake,” Biden reportedly said. “It’s go time. This is the most important election of our lifetime.”

The former vice president and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have been running a more socially distanced campaign than the president. But they have been increasing their activity in NC in recent weeks, with polls indicating a tight race learning slightly toward Biden in the typically Republican-leaning state.

Biden and Harris have been focusing on health care particularly in NC, one of 12 states remaining that still blocks Medicaid expansion.

An election like no other

Election 2020 North Carolina
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham speaks to supporters in March 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

[updated Oct. 16, 2020] Cardinal & Pine reporters have an extensive amount of experience covering North Carolina politics. So take it from us when we say: We have never seen an election like 2020.

Put aside the presidential race for a moment and the stark contrast between Democratic candidate Joe Biden and Republican President Donald Trump. The race for power in North Carolina has come to a head. 

For a decade, the state has been under the thumb of Republican leadership. Historically speaking though, GOP dominance in North Carolina is still just a footnote. When the party seized both chambers of the traditionally moderate state legislature in 2010, it was the first time the Republican Party held both in a century. And with Gov. Pat McCrory’s election in 2012, the Republicans held virtually unchecked power, ushering in an era of broad tax cuts, reduced public education funding, and a highly polarizing social conservative agenda.

In 2020, Democrats have a chance to retake control in both the state House and Senate. There are crucial races across the state that will determine control of the chambers, many of which were featured in our “Cardinal Issues” series.

But that’s not all at stake. Gov. Roy Cooper faces a stiff challenge from GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. US Sen. Thom Tillis is squaring off with Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham in a winding race that might determine the balance of of power in D.C. Democrat Yvonne Lewis Holley faces Republican political newcomer Mark Robinson in the race to fill Forest’s seat. And no matter what, the state will have a new Superintendent of Public Instruction, with Democrat Jen Mangrum facing Republican Catherine Truitt.

And then there’s Trump and Biden. 

This blog, which we will update as we approach the election, on Election Day, and in the days that follows, will offer breaking news and analysis with up-to-the-minute info about the election results and voting. Check back for updates.