Local votes align with state results in most races

Published 6:34 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2020

When it came to federal candidates, Beaufort County voters were largely in line with voters throughout North Carolina on Super Tuesday.

Presidential preferences in Beaufort County mirrored the larger picture, with voters picking Democrat Joe Biden and Republican incumbent Donald Trump in the first 2020 contest. On the Democratic ticket, local voters put Michael Bloomberg in second place, while Bernie Sanders won the runner-up spot statewide.

The primary races for U.S. Senate saw North Carolina voters and the local electorate choose Republican Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham to appear on the ballot in November, with local N.C. Senator Erica Smith ranking second in the Democratic contest.

As far as the N.C. Council of State, Beaufort County voters broke with the rest of the state in Democratic races for N.C. lt. governor, N.C. commissioner of agriculture, N.C. superintendent of public instruction and N.C. treasurer. Local Republican voters, meanwhile, were lockstep with their statewide compatriots, except when it came to the race for N.C. commissioner of labor.

In terms of voter turnout, Beaufort County was slightly higher, percentage wise, compared to the rest of the state. A total of 33.47% of registered voters showed up locally, compared with 31.07% turnout statewide. Both local and state turnout was down from the 2016 primaries.

“Only 10,928 people voted, 33.4%, so that’s bad,” said Beaufort County Board of Elections Director Kellie Hopkins. “In ’16, you had no incumbent president, so I think there was more energy on both sides.”

Hopkins added that 100 more local voters used One-Stop voting this year compared to 2016, although the overall turnout was lower. Early voting sites open for three days last week saw 209 people vote in Belhaven and 109 vote in Aurora.

“We’re looking to see if we might have a second primary, which could be the Democratic Lt. Governor’s race,” Hopkins said. “We’ll assess that over the next week or two and see if they call it. If we don’t have a second primary, we start marching toward November.”