Local Politics

McCrory latest victim of 'Charlotte curse'

Although he's a popular seven-term mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory lost Mecklenburg County by a few hundred votes to Governor-elect Beverly Perdue.

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Democratic tide carried Governor-elect Beverly Perdue to victory Tuesday over Republican Pat McCrory, but political analysts also cited straight-ticket voting and some late negative ads as keys to her win.

Although, he's a popular seven-term mayor of Charlotte, McCrory lost Mecklenburg County to Perdue by a few hundred votes.

"(Running for governor is) a lot different from when you're running for mayor," Republican consultant Carter Wrenn said.

Wrenn and Democratic consultant Gary Pearce pointed to President-elect Barack Obama's big win in Charlotte and other metro areas across the state.

Obama routed Republican John McCain by 24 percentage points in Mecklenburg County, and Perdue benefited from Obama's coattails. Almost two-thirds of the voters who cast a straight-ticket ballot in Mecklenburg County voted Democratic, according to figures from the State Board of Elections.

"The fact is, to win statewide, Democrats have to carry Mecklenburg County," Pearce said, adding that Democrats also built a huge lead by getting voters to the polls during the early-voting period.

"On Election Day, Republicans started out 400,000 votes behind. That's hard to make up," he said.

Analysts also said Perdue capitalized on McCrory's strong suit – crossover votes. In addition to picking up the surge in African-American votes, she also picked off many white, rural voters who supported McCain.

Wrenn credited controversial negative ads Perdue aired late in the campaign that linked McCrory to out-of-state garbage being dumped in North Carolina and illegal immigrants in Charlotte.

"I thought she was really focused on just that one key group of people, and I expect she got them," Wrenn said of the voters who backed both Perdue and McCain.

Other factors in Perdue's favor including a 3-1 spending advantage in an aggressive ad campaign and a well-organized Democratic Party campaign, they said. Ultimately, however, they said it came down to the political tide.

"(President) George Bush pulled him down, and Barack Obama pulled Bev Perdue and a lot of Democrats across the finish line," Pearce said.

McCrory's defeat adds to the so-called "Charlotte curse." Sitting mayors from the city have lost all seven campaigns for statewide office since 1984, including two U.S. Senate campaigns by Harvey Gantt and two gubernatorial runs by Richard Vinroot.