The 2020 North Carolina primary election certainly proved that the top of the ticket drives voter turnout.
In the Democratic presidential primary there was a hot race between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. But there was also Mike Bloomberg spending millions in a failed attempt to buy votes. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a small but loyal following, and for those voting early, there was Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and the lesser of the two billionaires in the race, Tom Steyer.
In that race, over 1.3 million voters cast ballots. But in North Carolina, that doesn’t mean that over 1.3 million Democrats cast ballots because unaffiliated voters are allowed to vote in either the Republican or the Democratic primary.
On the Republican side, President Donald J. Trump really had no competition. Bill Weld is still in the race but he finished with fewer votes than Joe Walsh, who has officially dropped out.
The only question at the top of the Republican ticket was how high a percentage Trump could win, and he did pretty well with 93.5 percent of the Republican vote. Weld, his only official opponent, finished with 1.9 percent.
In the Republican presidential primary over 798,000 votes were cast, or about 500,000 less than in the Democratic presidential primary.
The Democratic presidential primary could also be used as an argument against early voting, or at least early voting in presidential primaries. During the entire early voting period, which ended on Saturday, Feb. 29, Klobuchar, Buttigieg and Steyer were all in the race, and by Election Day, Tuesday, March 3, they had all dropped out.
Of those three, Buttigieg did the best with 3.2 percent, Klobuchar had 2.3 percent and Steyer had 0.81 percent. Even if all those votes went to one candidate, it wouldn’t have been enough to change the outcome, since Biden won with 42.9 percent to 24.1 percent for Sanders.
Steyer actually came in behind “No Preference,” which had 1.65 percent of the vote, and No Preference didn’t spend a dime while Steyer spent millions.