Dorothy Taylor, right, places her 2020 primary election ballot in the scanner while her grandson Julian Taylor and poll worker Georgia Everett look on at the Edgecombe County Administrative Building polling place in Tarboro on March 3, 2020. Calvin Adkins / Carolina Public Press

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North Carolina’s election night results show that moderate Democratic candidates and incumbents in general had a strong night on Super Tuesday.

The election process appeared to run smoothly statewide. The outcomes included few surprises, though some significant ones, along with a small number of races that may lead to runoffs.

Lieutenant governor proved to be the most interesting statewide race. Mark Robinson won the Republican primary in what is largely seen as an upset.

He will represent the Republican Party in a major statewide race this fall. The Democratic primary, however, failed to produce a clear winner, likely leading to a runoff between the top two Democratic finishers.

N.C. Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, D-Wake, earned 27% of the vote, shy of the required 30% needed to avoid a runoff. Second-place finisher, N.C. Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, earned 20%.

Not all incumbents fared well across the state as N.C. Rep. Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland, lost to Kimberly Hardy in the Democratic primary for N.C. House District 43.

Many mail-in, military and provisional ballots still need to be counted before results are made official, though the margin of advantage is enough for winners to be clear in most races across the state. For a small number of very close races, the next week may be a nail-biter as those final votes are tallied.

Election officials also need to verify that all is as it seems. This includes statutorily required audits and checks on the accuracy of votes reported on election night.

Here is the rundown of North Carolina’s most important — and a few often overlooked — races and results from Super Tuesday.

Tiph Worley campaigns during the 2020 primary election in the parking lot outside the First Baptist Church of Black Mountain polling place in Buncombe County on March 3, 2020. Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

Presidential race on Super Tuesday

Former Vice President Joe Biden, D-Delaware, won North Carolina’s 2020 Democratic presidential with 43% of the vote.

He earned far and away more votes than any other candidate. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, earned 24% of the vote and is the only other candidate to surpass the 15% threshold to earn delegates from the state.

Early voters were much more evenly split among the Democratic candidates, especially Biden and Sanders, than voters on election day. This may be due to the last-minute departure of presidential candidates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota.

They ended their campaigns after Biden won South Carolina on Saturday. Both candidates then endorsed Biden before Super Tuesday, likely consolidating moderate voters behind the former vice president.

Nationally, Biden and Sanders are now the clear front-runners for the Democratic nomination. Neither Elizabeth Warren nor Michael Bloomberg won in any state on Super Tuesday, though both picked up delegates. Bloomberg did win the territory of American Samoa.

President Donald Trump did not face a serious challenge in North Carolina and won 94% of the vote in the Republican primary.

Carolyn Seward, right, representing the Democratic Women of Nash County, greets 2020 primary election voter Cassandra Williams as she arrives outside the Braswell Memorial Library polling place in Rocky Mount on March 3, 2020. Calvin Adkins / Carolina Public Press

U.S. Senate

Former N.C. Sen. Cal Cunningham, D-Davidson, won the Democratic nomination to face off against the Republican incumbent, Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County, to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate.

Cunningham won the primary with 57% of the vote. His strongest challenger, Erica Smith, earned 35% of the vote.

Tillis did not face a serious challenge to his seat. He won the Republican primary with 78% of the vote.

Cunningham and Tillis will face off in the Nov. 3 general election.

Edgecombe County Commission candidate Calvin Sherrod prepares sample primary election ballots for potential voters outside the Edgecombe County Administration Building polling place in Tarboro on March 3, 2020. Calvin Adkins / Carolina Public Press

U.S. House races

In U.S. House District 1, Sandy Smith won the Republican race with 77% of the vote.

The Democratic Party did not host a primary for this seat.

Smith will face Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-Wilson, for the seat on Nov. 3.

In U.S. House District 2, Deborah Ross won the Democratic primary with 70% of the vote. Her win prompted Wayne Goodwin, the N.C. Democratic Party chair, to issue a statement praising Ross as “a civil rights lawyer who has fought for fairness, justice and a level the playing field for all North Carolinians.”

The Republican Party did not host a primary for this open seat. Alan Swain was unopposed and advanced to the general election. Ross and Swain will vie for the congressional seat on Nov. 3.

In U.S. House District 4, just as the moderate Democrat won the presidential primary in North Carolina, U.S. Rep. David E. Price cleaned up against challenger Daniel Ulysses Lockwood. Lockwood tied his campaign to that of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Price, who was the incumbent in this race, earned 87% of the vote to Lockwood’s 13%. Price has served in the U.S. House since 1987, except for a two-year hiatus when he lost an election to his Republican challenger in 1994.

Robert Thomas won the Republican primary with 48% of the vote, facing a closer challenge from second-place finisher Debesh Sarkar with 23% of the vote.

Price and Thomas will face off in the general election on Nov. 3.

In U.S. House District 5, David Brown (68%) defeated Eric Hughes (32%) in the Democratic primary.

Brown will challenge Republican incumbent Virginia Foxx for this seat on Nov. 3.

In U.S. House District 6, Kathy Manning won the Democratic primary, earning 48% of the vote. Goodwin issued a statement praising Manning’s ability to unite voters.

“As an attorney and community leader, Kathy Manning has spent the last 30 years bringing people together to solve problems in her community,” Goodwin’s statement reads. “Now she is ready to take her skills and determination to Washington to fight for hardworking North Carolinians and our country.”

Manning will face Lee Haywood in the general election on November 3.

Haywood won the Republican primary with 73% of the vote.

In U.S. House District 7, Christopher M. Ward won the Democratic primary, earning 46% of the vote.

Ward will face Republican incumbent David Rouzer on Nov. 3.

In U.S. District 9, the four-way Democratic primary had a clear and dominant winner. Cynthia Wallace earned 56% of the vote, with each of the other three candidates earning percentages in the midteens.

Wallace will face Republican incumbent Dan Bishop on Nov. 3.

In U.S. House District 10, three Republicans ran to represent the party in November. Patrick McHenry, the incumbent, won overwhelmingly with 72% of the vote.

McHenry will face challenger David Parker, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

In U.S. House District 11, the Republican primary is likely headed for a second primary.

The first-place winner, Lynda Bennett, earned 23% of the vote. To win outright, the leading vote-getter needs to earn 30%.

The second-place finisher, who according to unofficial election night results was Madison Cawthorn with 20% of the vote, can request a runoff. Close behind Cawthorn was N.C. Sen. Jim Davis with 19%, trailing Cawthorn by about 1,000 votes.

On the Democratic side, Moe Davis, won outright with 47% of the vote. He will face the eventual Republican nominee in the general election on Nov. 3.

In U.S. House District 12, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-Charlotte, won decisively with 88% of the vote against her single Democratic challenger. Adams, the incumbent, does not face a Republican opponent in November.

Orange County voters William Carrington, left, and Leo Allison look over and discuss the posted sample 2020 primary election ballots at the Gravely Hill Middle School polling place as they prepare to cast their votes on March 3, 2020. Jake Axelbank / Carolina Public Press


The race for governor did not yield any surprises. The incumbent, Roy Cooper, won the Democratic primary with 87% of the vote.

Dan Forest, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2013, won the Republican primary with 89% of the vote.

This sets up a race for governor between a moderate Democrat and a conservative Republican, possibly mirroring the presidential race should Biden be the eventual nominee.

It is not clear what effect these alignments could have on voter turnout or on splitting the ticket between governor and president, as happened when North Carolina voted for the Republican Trump in 2016, but for Democratic Cooper for the governor’s mansion.

Attorney General

Jim O’Neill, a district attorney, won the Republican primary with 47% of the vote. He will face current Attorney General Josh Stein in the November general election on Nov. 3.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

The candidates are running to fill the seat of Mark Johnson, a Republican who lost in his bid for the party’s nomination to be lieutenant governor.

For the Republicans, Catherine Truitt defeated her challenger by earning 57% of the vote. She will be facing the Democratic nominee, Jen Mangrum, who won her field with 33% of the vote. The contest between Truitt and Mangrum will be decided in the November general election.


Ronnie Chatterji advanced from a tight race between the Democratic candidates for treasurer. Chatterji earned 36% of the vote, edging out Dimple Ajmera and Matt Leatherman with 34% and 30% of the vote, respectively.

Chatterji will run against Republican incumbent Dale Folwell in the Nov. 3 general election.

Lanie Hamrick, left, and Destinee Terry, both students at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, check in to pick up their primary election ballots at the Old Fort Wesleyan Church polling place in McDowell County on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

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Jordan Wilkie

Jordan Wilkie is a Report for America corps member and is the lead contributing reporter covering election integrity, open government, and civil liberties for Carolina Public Press. Email to contact him.

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