Republicans sweep state in general election, push senate to their majority


The Appalachian Online

Laney Ruckstuhl

The 2014 North Carolina general election not only resulted in a Republican-dominated state, but nationwide Republican control of the Senate with the election of Thom Tillis, winning by a margin of just over 1 percent.

Tillis was the last senator to be elected that pushed the nation over the edge, giving Republicans majority control of the Senate, meaning that the president and Senate are now of opposing parties.

Now that all ballots have been counted, 52 republicans and 43 democrats have been elected to the Senate. The House of Representatives is now made up 243 republican elects and 175 democrats.

Tillis, conservative former speaker of NC House, ran on a platform that focused on debt reduction, repeal of Obamacare, the institution of the traditional family, cutting down government regulations and taxes and energy independence, among others.

Tillis was elected with 48.87 percent of the votes. Opponent and incumbent Kay Hagan, D, received 47.20 percent of the votes, losing by less than 50,000 votes. Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh, who ran on a platform that focused almost solely on legalization of marijuana, had the remaining 3.74 percent.

The campaign between Hagan and Tillis was the most expensive senatorial campaign ever in the history of the U.S.

Appalachian State University government and justice studies professor William Hicks said much of Tillis’ campaign revolved around linking Hagan to Obama, whose approval ratings are not the highest – typical of a president midway through his second term. Additionally, Hicks said history shows it is typical for the president’s party to lose seats in a midterm election.

Only 10 democratic seats were lost in the Senate, which is substantially less than previous years.

Hicks explained that the opposition of parties in the two branches means that gridlock will become an incentive for the Senate.

“There is a benefit to sending bills to the president that you know he will veto,” Hicks said. “It’s not about the character of people in office, it’s about the rules of the game. The rules of the game incentivise obstruction.”

Incumbent Virginia Foxx, R, was re-elected and is among a total of more than 100 women. This is the first time in history that large of a number of women have held office in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Foxx sweeped opponent Josh Brannon, D, with 61.03 percent of the votes to his 38.97 percent.

Republicans Dan Soucek, NC State Sen. and Jonathan C. Jordan, NC House of Rep. were elected to the state’s Congress.

Overall, only 58 percent of the NC Senate and 49 percent of the House of Rep. ran opposed in the election. This is less competition than about 80 percent of other states, Hicks said.

The control of the  legislative chambers of five states were overturned to Republicans yesterday. Of these 92 chambers, there are now 62 with Republican majorities. Republicans also gained two governor seats.

Watauga County voted in suit with the country for all major positions, making it a red county. However, democrats were elected to the local positions of county sheriff, clerk of superior court and a county commissioner, in one of three districts.

17,828 ballots were cast in Watauga county, just 37.48 percent of 45,779 registered voter in the county, whose population totals more than 50,000 overall.

North Carolina has almost 10 million citizens, 6,627,862 of which are registered voters. Less than half of these – 43.99 percent – voted in the election.

“Another issue is that voters don’t care,” Hicks said. “They don’t know about these elections, they don’t go out to vote for them.”

Story: Laney Ruckstuhl, News Editor