Mitt Romney won North Carolina last night. But the 15 electoral votes that went with it did not lead to the presidency, as Barack Obama was re-elected. As Dave DeWitt reports, the presidential race in North Carolina came down to a slim, but significant, margin.
Dave DeWitt: The Obama Campaign didn’t call it a victory party, but the crowd at the Raleigh Times Bar treated it as such. As Election Night wore on, the place got more crowded, and more raucous, as media outlets called east coast states for President Obama. This was one of eight Obama “Watch” Parties being held throughout the state for volunteers who worked on the campaign. And it was a night of mixed emotions, one that hit a low point just after 11 o’clock, when CNN called North Carolina for Mitt Romney. Sitting with her back against a wall, Ann Fawcett didn’t appear angry or crushed, but when asked her reaction, she offered this.
Ann Fawcett: Oh, I don’t think I can say on the radio. Obviously I’m very disappointed. Very Disappointed. But we did carry Wake County which we worked hard at doing.
The vote in Wake County served as a microcosm of the difference between 2008 and 2012. Four years ago, Barack Obama won the state’s most populous county by 15 points on the way to a statewide victory. Yesterday, he won Wake County by just 10 points. In 2008, Obama won 33 counties in the North Carolina. Four years later, he won 30. Those are small changes, but they added up to a nearly 100,000-vote win for Mitt Romney, and when it was announced at Pat McCrory’s victory event in Charlotte, supporters like Karla Schantz were thrilled.
Karla Schantz: Hallelujah, I can’t tell you how much it means to me. I was one of the phone callers to get people out. I handed out fliers today.
The dynamics of the state’s presidential politics did not change dramatically with last night’s win for Romney. It was only a three-percentage point victory, with a stark urban-rural divide. The counties in and around the state’s largest cities, like Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham, and Raleigh, all went for President Obama. But Romney tallied huge margins in rural areas, especially those without significant African-American populations. Back at the Raleigh Times, it was only a few minutes after boos filled the Obama Party that the atmosphere changed dramatically. Around 11:30 or so, media organizations began calling Ohio for Obama, and the President was re-elected. Ann Fawcett was still there, and her mood had improved.
Fawcett: Absolutely thrilled excited. I’m speechless, I’m just so happy. We just needed to win the country. I’m just happy I could help with that.
The crowd was still celebrating nearly two hours later when President Obama took the stage in Chicago and thanked his volunteers everywhere.
President Obama: Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley, you lifted me up the whole way, and I will always be grateful for everything you have done and all the incredible work you put in.
It’s not often that both sides, Republican and democrat, can claim victory on election night. But here in North Carolina, that was the case. But even that is short-lived. Republicans may have won almost every significant race in North Carolina, but they lost the big prize. And democrats like Ann Fawcett may have the President they wanted, but they worry that North Carolina has gone redder than it ever has in her lifetime.
Fawcett: I’m very worried about this state and the direction we are going in. I hope that we can re-group and make a difference in four years. We’ve got a lot of work to do, though.
That campaign work on the ground, on the airwaves, and everywhere else will start up again, soon enough.