Cook Political Report shifts North Carolina governor’s race to ‘toss up’

Cook Political Report shifts North Carolina governor’s race to ‘toss up’

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report (CPR) on Tuesday shifted the closely watched gubernatorial race in North Carolina from “lean Democrat” to “toss up,” attributing the change to the GOP candidate’s impressive fundraising markers.

The race pits Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson against Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein, as they vie to succeed the Democratic term-limited governor, Roy Cooper.

While only 34 percent of the state’s 7.4 million registered voters are Democrats, according to 2022 data from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the state has historically preferred Democrats in the executive mansion.

In the last century, only three Republicans have been elected to serve as governor of the state.

CPR’s initial rating of the race was “Lean Democrat, given the party’s recent track record of winning even as former President Donald Trump carried the state,” as well as Robinson’s track record of making controversial remarks that have been broadly characterized as antisemitic, anti-women and anti-LGBTQ.

Robinson’s strong fundraising skills, however, have tipped the balance back toward the middle.

“Robinson is raising actual money — more than $10.5 million so far. And according to both Democrats and Republicans, he’s on track to bring in the most money ever for a Republican gubernatorial nominee,” the analysis read.

Polling has also continued to show the race virtually tied. CPR released new polling earlier Tuesday that showed Stein and Robinson tied with 37 percent support each, while 17 percent of respondents were undecided.

According to The Hill/Decision Desk HQ’s polling average of the race, the two candidates are virtually tied, with Stein getting 40.5 percent of the vote and Robinson getting 40.2 percent.

Robinson, a close Trump ally, has faced scrutiny in recent months for his history of controversial comments on topics ranging from LGBTQ issues to civil rights and slavery to women’s issues.

“Ultimately, this comes down to whether Robinson’s divisive statements will alienate swing voters — especially suburban women — in the Research Triangle and Charlotte metro areas enough to allow Stein to sufficiently outrun Biden and overcome Democrats’ weaknesses with young voters and voters of color,” the analysis read.

Stein’s campaign manager Jeff Allen said in a statement to The Hill that “this report reiterated what we’ve known from the very beginning — this race is going to be close. That’s why Josh is working hard to earn every single vote.”

He continued, “This campaign will illustrate the clear choice North Carolinians have between a safer, stronger North Carolina with Josh Stein or a path of hate and division under Mark Robinson.”

A spokesperson for Robinson’s campaign said the report proves that Robinson resonates with all North Carolina voters.

“Despite relentless lies and smears by the Democrats, Mark Robinson’s vision and message continues to resonate with North Carolina voters of all backgrounds and walks of life,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill. “Far-left career politicians like Joe Biden and Josh Stein have brought open borders, crippling inflation and rampant crime on the rise in many of our major cities. The voters have had enough and are ready for a bold conservative outsider like Mark Robinson to partner with President Trump and roll back the failed policies and radical agenda of Biden, Stein and the Democrats.”

Robinson became the first Black lieutenant governor in the state and is hoping to become the first Black governor in the state. Stein hopes to become the state’s first Jewish governor.

Updated at 9:31 pm EST.

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