Despite North Carolina’s status as a swing state, it has voted pretty consistently for the Republican party throughout recent history. Let’s take a closer look at how it has voted in the past, thanks to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog:
2008: A point of high importance for the Obama campaign in its efforts to get out the vote for the President is the tiny margin by which he won in 2008—less than 1%. This can be attributed to Obama’s grass roots efforts in the state and the growth in its black demographic.
In 2004 and 2000 North Carolina voted for the GOP by over 10% both times.
In 1996, the state again went red, but only by around 4.7%.
1988 and 1984 went Bush and Reagan by significantly larger margins—16% and 24%, respectively.
The pendulum swung slowly the other way in the previous two elections. Reagan won North Carolina by just over 2% in 1980 and the state went solidly Democrat in 1976 with Carter winning by 11%.
North Carolina contributed to Nixon’s landslide victory in 1972—he won the state by 41%. He had also lead the Republican party to a win in 1968 by 10%.
The four elections from 1952-1964 went Democrat. The closest margin was in 1956 when North Carolina sided with Stevenson at 1.2%.
If the election were today, and North Carolina’s results aligned exactly with Silver’s projections, the 2012 results would resemble those most closely with that of Reagan’s victory in the state in 1980—he won with 49.3% of the vote as opposed to the Democrat vote of 47.2%.
Here’s another perspective on how to look at the swing of the political pendulum in the Tar Heel State:
Beginning in 1952—the state stayed blue for four elections. NC swung to the GOP the next two elections, but shifted Democrat in ’76. The Republicans had North Carolina on lock for the next seven elections. Obama upset this streak in 2008.
Right now North Carolina is leaning Romney, but only time will reveal if this occurs. Obama’s victory in 2008 may have just been a faint echo of the anomalous 1976 Carter victory, but even then the Democrats had an 11% victory, compared to Obama’s triumph by the skin of his teeth.