DEAR AMERICA: If Hillary Wins North Carolina is Trump Done For?

This is going to be a close one, that’s for sure. November 8th will be an ‘edge of your seat’ kind of night. Do you think Trump can win this?

Republican Donald Trump can do little to stop Democrat Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency if she carries North Carolina, where their close race reflects the national liabilities of both candidates.

Trump is struggling with conservative Democrats, especially women in the big and booming suburbs of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, who’ve long been part of the GOP’s winning formula in North Carolina.

Clinton has her own worries: Younger voters who helped Barack Obama win the state in 2008 and come close in 2012 are far more hesitant to back her.

In a scenario playing out across the most contested states, Clinton’s pursuit of new supporters is aided by a huge, data-driven ground force in North Carolina, while Trump is sticking with his come-what-may plan.

“Both candidates have problems here,” said Paul Shumaker, an adviser to U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who is seeking re-election. “But I think the Clinton people are more attuned about fixing their problems than Trump’s are.”

Polls suggest North Carolina, Ohio and Florida are among the most competitive states expected to decide the final steps on the path to the 270 electoral votes required to win the White House.

In all but one of the past nine presidential elections, the Republican nominee has taken North Carolina. Clinton’s apparent strength in once reliably Republican Virginia and swing state Colorado may mean a perilously narrow route to an electoral majority for Trump.

If Clinton captures North Carolina, Trump would have to carry perennially tight Ohio and Florida, plus Democrat-leaning Pennsylvania, and sweep less populous close states that appear increasingly out of reach.

Shumaker says GOP support for Trump is lower than usual in North Carolina, as estimated in private GOP and public polling. 2012 nominee Mitt Romney received more than 90 percent of the GOP vote in North Carolina, according to exit polls; Trump appears markedly short of that.

Trump promised to win over conservative Democrats, who are common in Cary, a suburb of roomy brick homes and newer retail developments west of Raleigh.

Such a voter is Sunday Petrov, who is grudgingly backing Clinton. “It’s more like I’m voting against Trump,” she said. “What bothers me most is his disrespect for Hispanics, for Muslims, his unprofessional demeanor.”

Trump has little outreach aimed at specific voter groups in North Carolina; Clinton does. She needs it with younger people, with whom her polling margins pale next to Obama’s in 2008 and 2012.

After last Monday’s debate with Trump, she pleaded her case during a rally at Wake Tech Community College. The election, she said, “is more about the future of young people and children than it’s ever been,” and she talked about her plan for government-subsidized, tuition-free college. Later in the week, Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, visited Asheville and Greenville, stopping at Eastern Carolina University to focus on college debt.

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