Primary numbers show boost from candidate visits

Posted March 16, 2016

— Although primaries are contests within political parties, it's sometimes telling to look at overall candidate results.

Democrat Hillary Clinton drew by far the most votes in North Carolina of any presidential candidate, at 616,758, followed by Democratic rival Bernie Sanders at 460,434. Republican front-runner Donald Trump finished close behind Sanders with 458,411 votes, while Republican Ted Cruz garnered 418,927 votes in the state.

The Republicans did have 12 presidential candidates on the ballot – the Democrats had only four – to split the vote. Even long-forgotten Republican contenders such as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum picked up votes in North Carolina.

In Wake County, Cruz defeated Trump by about 11 percentage points, while Clinton topped Sanders by a little over 8 points.

There was a change in campaign momentum after candidates began crisscrossing the state last week.

During early voting, Trump had a 42-34 percent lead over Cruz, but that narrowed to 40-38 percent in votes cast Tuesday.

The Democrats had an even bigger shift. In early voting, Clinton led Sanders by 60-36 percent, but that 24-point margin narrowed to 8 points in primary day voting.

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In the gubernatorial race, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory topped all contenders, with 869,114 votes. Democratic nominee Roy Cooper received 703,141 votes.

The McCrory campaign quickly crowed about those results Wednesday, noting that the gubernatorial candidate with the most primary votes has gone on to win the general election in North Carolina for at least the past two decades.

In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Sen. Richard Burr won 621,844 votes, compared with 607,764 for Democratic challenger Deborah Ross.

Overall in North Carolina, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a little over 600,000, about 2.6 million to 2 million. But there were about 9,400 more Republican ballots cast statewide in the election.

The 1.9 million unaffiliated voters can choose which primary to vote in, and although hard numbers aren't yet available, it appears more of them chose Republican ballots in the primary.


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