The race for the White House this November is heating up, with Donald Trump and Joe Biden facing off yet again. It’s the competition that the vast majority of Americans don’t want, with more than 70% of Americans believing that neither Joe Biden or Donald Trump are fit to be president again. Regardless, it’s the hand Americans have been dealt, and it appears there are some positive inklings on the horizon for liberals.

2020: One for the Books

The 2020 election was one of the most hotly contested elections in modern American history. There have been many times in the past when one party or the other was unhappy over the results of a federal election, but the reaction to the results of the 2020 presidential race were far beyond anything seen before.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Tia Dufour

This is, in part, due to Donald Trump’s push of the Big Lie. For months before the voting boxes even opened for the 2020 election, he told his followers that if Joe Biden and the Democrats won the election, it would be because they had cheated or stole the election from “real Americans.”

Divisive Political Rhetoric

This type of divisive political rhetoric is far from new. Many political scholars have looked at Donald Trump’s rise to power and drawn significant correlations with the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany. The rise of neo-fascism in America is an issue that is deeply concerning for many Americans, which has led to the intensification of fear-based politics on both sides of the aisle.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/The White House

Republicans have used fears against immigrants and LGBTQ+ people to push their various policies. These are fear-based issues that have worked for them in the past, and they continue to appeal to key demographics that consistently have voted for Republicans in the past. 

Democrats’ Opinion on Donald Trump

For Democrats, they’ve dug into the issue that – according to many polls – won them the 2020 election in the first place: fear around Donald Trump. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/The White House

Democrats, from local politicians all the way up to Joe Biden in the White House, have been running a campaign that the 2024 election is existential, due to the existence of Donald Trump in politics. Many liberals and moderates believe that, should Donald Trump win another term in the White House, it would be the end of the American experiment with democracy.

Appealing to Voters Across the Board

Where Republican messaging does a good job of riling up their base, Democratic messaging appeals to Democrats, independents, and moderate Republicans alike. There are many people who are “never-Trumpers,” especially after the attack on the capitol on January 6 that Trump is currently facing felony charges for his alleged involvement in.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Tyler Merbler

This is a problem for Republicans, particularly as the party seems to have, as a whole, thrown their whole weight behind Trump. Trump has gained enough delegates in Republican primaries to be the formal nominee for 2024, and has made his presence known at the RNC by installing his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as the co-chair and subtly pressuring Ronna McDaniel to step down from her RNC leadership position.

Trump’s Position Solidifying

Trump’s political position seems to have solidified just as his legal troubles are ramping up, and appear to be ready to explode. Trump is currently under indictment for more than 90 felonies across four different jurisdictions, for alleged crimes surrounding his business and presidency alike. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

Indeed, if polls are to be believed, every time Republicans discuss Trump’s legal troubles – in the context of calling them a Democratic witch hunt, of course – Trump receives a boost in the polls. It appears that, to Republicans, Trump can do no wrong. 

Still Losing, Though

Unfortunately, this political enthusiasm hasn’t been translating to wins in important races. The “red wave” that was meant to appear in the 2022 midterms fizzled before it could be realized, and many Republicans have blamed their lackluster performance on Trump. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Ali Shaker

In 2022, Trump-endorsed candidates lost in various important races across the board. Among these important races were elections for positions such as Secretary of State; this role is particularly important because the secretary of state is responsible for running a state election and determining the rules for it, a role that would understandably be desirable for Trump to control.

Lackluster Turnout for Trump

The pattern of intense enthusiasm, but lackluster turnout appears to be continuing this year as the presidential election approaches. For Donald Trump, though, this could spell big trouble for his chances of being reelected to the presidency this fall. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

These troubles are manifesting in one particular race that political analysts are watching carefully. The race for the governor’s mansion in North Carolina is looking to be a nail-biter, and many experts believe that the race is a bellwether for the coming races ahead.

A Slightly Conservative Swing State

North Carolina has historically voted as a swing state with a slight conservative lean. In 10 of the last 11 elections, NC has voted for the Republican presidential candidate, with the state voting for Donald Trump in 2020 by a slim 1.3% lead. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/JBTHEMILKER

Given the narrowness of Trump’s lead in the state several years ago, many experts have pointed to polling data for the governor’s race as something for the Republicans to be concerned about. The data reveals that Josh Stein, the Democratic candidate for governor, is leading the Republican candidate, Mark Robinson, by an 8 point margin. 

Often Electing Democratic Governors

North Carolina, despite being a moderately conservative state, often elects a Democratic candidate to the governor’s mansion. Seven of the last eighth gubernatorial elections in the state have gone to the Democratic candidate, which is one of the factors that gives the state its swing state status. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Warren LeMay

This is a pattern that looks to be repeating this year. Republicans were hoping to win back the governor’s mansion with this fall’s elections, and though there’s still plenty of time for Robinson to close the gap between himself and Stein, eight points is a hefty lead to make up for. 

Robinson Behind in the Polls

Robinson has fallen behind in the polls, in part, due to his highly divisive political rhetoric. The Lieutenant Governor has attracted scrutiny during his tenure over comments that he’s made over divisive political discourse in the last few years. 

Source: X/markrobinsonNC

For instance, Robinson once suggested that Black people could pay reparations, stating this amid calls from progressives for descendants of slaves to receive pay. He has also been criticized over his comments about LGBTQ+ people.

Anti-LGBTQ+ Comments from Robinson

One such comment from 2021 reads, “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.” These comments came at a time when anti-tran rhetoric is rated as a particularly important issue for young voters, who vote overwhelmingly liberal and are set to be the second largest voting bloc in the coming presidential election. 

Source: X/markrobinsonNC

Steven Greene, a professor of political science at North Carolina State University, stated in an interview that Robinson’s “extremely conservative” social positions contribute to him being a less-than-ideal candidate. “That is being used against him, and will continue to be used against him this campaign.”

Stein as a Steady, Dependable Candidate

In comparison, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 52 percent of respondents planned to back Stein in his bid for the governor’s mansion. Greene described Stein as a “solid, capable and experienced candidate from the mainstream of the Democratic Party.”

Source: X/joshstein_

Stein is also the state’s attorney general, which gives him a key advantage among voters who are looking for a candidate with significant political experience to bring to the role. But, most importantly, Stein is not a candidate who is endorsed by Donald Trump, which Robinson is. And unfortunately for him, that isn’t a perk going into the fall of this year.

Trump Still Has a Chance of Winning

Only one survey conducted recently showed Robinson taking the lead over Stein in the governor’s race. In spite of this troubling news for the hopeful candidate, the same poll still found that Trump is holding a lead of two points over Joe Biden in the state. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

This means that while state races might be less competitive, the presidential race is still very much up for grabs. Trump and Biden alike are doing everything in their power to convince Americans that they’re the right man for the job, and at this point, it’s still anybody’s race.