Raleigh, N.C. — After months of protests over North Carolina’s House Bill 2, some are questioning how much of a role the bill played in the way people voted Tuesday night.
House Bill 2, which was passed in March, requires people to use bathrooms in schools and other public buildings that match their birth gender and excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections.
In campaign ads, Attorney General Roy Cooper said House Bill 2 wrote discrimination against the LGBT community into state law, while Gov. Pat McCrory argued the bill provides safety in restrooms.
“I think it was big for some voters,” said Meredith College political science professor David McLennan.
McLennan said he believes House Bill 2 played a role in the close race for governor.
“Gov. McCrory was the spokesperson for HB2. He went on the national shows and talked about it. The ads were about HB2,” he said.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Cooper was about 5,000 votes ahead of McCrory out of more than 5 million votes cast, according to unofficial results Wednesday night.
WRAL News polls leading up to the election showed House Bill 2 was unpopular. In one poll, released in early October, more than 50 percent of participants did not approve of the legislation. Nearly 80 percent said a candidate’s position on House Bill 2 would strongly or somewhat influence their vote.
In a poll released last week, nearly 60 percent of those who responded said House Bill 2 would strongly influence their vote for governor.
McLennan said the race for attorney general was also likely affected by the legislation. Republican Buck Newton is also a House Bill 2 supporter. His race against Democrat Josh Stein is also tight.
“This is the second race where it probably had the most impact,” McLennan said.
McLennan said the House Bill 2 debate spoke to multiple voting groups, including those concerned with civil rights and those concerned with the bill’s effect on the economy.