While Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to clash with the Republican-controlled General Assembly over the next several months, he has two other political challenges:
Most of the state is Pat McCrory territory, geographically speaking.
And North Carolina is becoming increasingly difficult to govern because it is split into two halves divided along geographic, racial, education and income lines.
That’s the analysis of county voting results in the November election by Joseph Keefer, a Chapel Hill consultant who does quantitative research.
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Cooper won by just 10,227 votes out of 4.7 million votes cast.
He defeated one-term Republican incumbent McCrory in all of the seven most populous counties — a combined 63 percent to 37 percentage margin. That’s Mecklenburg, Wake, Guilford, Forsyth, Cumberland, Durham and Buncombe counties.
McCrory defeated Cooper by 58 percent to 42 percent in the remaining 93 counties combined, where Cooper’s performance was low even in counties with relatively large populations. Keefer says that could indicate more of a “mega-counties versus the rest of the state” dynamic than the traditional urban versus rural.
The counties that benefited Cooper tended to be home to people with higher incomes and education levels, and they had higher black populations. Conversely, Cooper typically lost in counties with lower black populations and counties that are suffering economically.
Keefer is a former journalist, congressional aide and communications professor. His fourth and fifth textbooks on English usage and quantitative communication are being published this winter.