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While Donald Trump’s rallies in North Carolina have become infamous this election cycle for their xenophobic and divisive rhetoric and frequent outbursts of violence, the more significant story may prove to be a tectonic, though silent, shift in the North Carolina electorate that strongly rejects the extreme agenda of Donald Trump and the North Carolina GOP.
Since 2008, there has been almost a 40% increase in North Carolina independent voters, from 1.4 million to 1.9 million, mostly college-educated people moving in from other states to the suburbs of Charlotte and Raleigh. And how do college-educated people and independents feel about immigration?
In a nationwide Gallup poll from July of this year, 85% of independents favored a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and only 1 in 3 supported Trump’s mass deportation policy or calls to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Looking at other discriminatory policies, recent polling by PPP has shown that North Carolina independents oppose HB2, North Carolina’s bathroom discrimination bill, by a 17 point margin.
Recent data also shows that Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda has resulted in a 22% increase in Latino voter registration in the state since he launched his campaign, compared to an average of 5% among other groups. These numbers may have been anticipated given the direct attacks by Trump, Governor McCrory, and the State Legislature on immigrants, but the larger story in North Carolina is that Latinos are not the only people turned off by discriminatory policies.
Among college-educated likely voters, a nationwide Bloomberg poll shows Hillary Clinton with a commanding 22% advantage, and, even among college-educated white voters, a group Romney won by 14%, Clinton still holds a strong lead of 11%.
“Whether you look at the huge growth in the Hispanic electorate or the influx of college-educated independents, North Carolina’s electorate is in flux and the GOP is finding it increasingly difficult to gather support for their divisive rhetoric, said Tim Eakins, Director of North Carolina’s Voice. “One can only hope that the NC GOP’s agenda of hate and discrimination will be pushed into extinction by a shifting electorate that rejects their fear mongering and demands dignity and fair treatment for all North Carolinians.”