Moderates and Unaffiliated Voters Refuse to Back McCrory a Second Time
Many who voted for McCrory in 2012 because of his seemingly moderate stances will not be voting for McCrory again in 2016 because of his tendency to lean far right in Raleigh. HB2, coal ash issues, education and Medicaid expansion are just a few of the ways McCrory has failed moderates the past four years and unaffiliated voters are fed up with it. With unaffiliated voters making up about one-third of registered NC voters, their opinions matter. A lot.
Since 2013, the Republican-led legislature has pushed a raft of measures that prompted statewide protests and national criticism: passing a law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls (which was later struck down by the courts); refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; slashing unemployment benefits. And McCrory followed his party’s lead. “They’ve pushed him to be more conservative than is his ilk,” says Susan Roberts, associate professor of political science at Davidson College.
The governor’s also faced criticism for budget cuts at the state’s renowned public university system and for how little North Carolina pays its public school teachers. Despite recent raises, last year the National Education Association ranked North Carolina 41st in the nation for average teacher pay.
His environmental record is another point of contention. McCrory, who worked for Duke Energy for nearly three decades, has given the utility several years to clean up its coal ash pits, some of which are leaking cancer-causing chemicals into drinking water supplies around the state. Some residents are still using bottled water more than a year after they were notified of the danger.
But the HB2 controversy propelled him into a particularly unflattering national spotlight. In February, Charlotte passed an ordinance that extended discrimination protections to LGBT people and allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. House Bill 2 overturned that rule and went much further, allowing private businesses to discriminate against gay and transgender people and prohibiting cities and counties from passing measures to protect them. “We’re punching on local people,” Myers says. “I’m tired of it. I’m fed up with it.”
Thomas Clark, a retiree who lives in a small town southeast of Raleigh, says McCrory’s administration has “sort of been one disaster after another”—from education funding to racially gerrymandered voting districts, House Bill 2, and “the denial of environmental science.” Clark has voted Republican or independent his whole life. Not this year.