Cover Story: The blue tide in Charlotte?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Is red dead?  Just one day after voters went to the polls results from races in Charlotte have many wondering if Republicans in Charlotte are losing an uphill battle.

There were big wins for the Democrats Tuesday night.  Some are asking is this blue tide going to last into next year's elections?

Pundits tend to look at one election and say it's the end of one party or another.

But there is no denying what we're seeing in Charlotte - it's changing.

And the extent to which Charlotte votes Democratic holds implications for next year's presidential and gubernatorial races.

If ever there was a doubt of the influence of the one at the top of the ticket those doubts were put to rest last night with Mayor Anthony Foxx's victory.

Foxx had a huge campaign war chest of $770,000.  He employed national consultants.  And on TV waged a slick media campaign.

The Charlotte mayor was not only able to take the mayoral race by the biggest margin in dozen years but helped sweep into office nine Democrats - leaving only two Republicans on the 11-member Charlotte City Council.

"It's an amazing night to be a Democrat in Charlotte," said LaWana Mayfield of District 3, one of the new Democrats elected to council.

Democrats turned out in droves for the two weeks of early voting.  Nearly two-thirds of those who showed up were registered Democrats.

And when it came time for Election Day Republicans in Charlotte were behind the eight-ball.

Dan McCorkle is a Democratic strategist and life-long Charlottean.

"Last night (Tuesday) Anthony Foxx had big coattails a great ground effort and pulled us all in."

Helped by a shifting tide in Charlotte - going more blue - going more Democratic.

On a map only districts 6 and 7 now lean Republican red.

UNC Charlotte political science professor Dr. Eric Heberlig showed us the demographic shift that's been taking place the past several election cycles as the city's been adding African-American and Hispanic voters, both groups who tend to vote Democrat.

Does this mean the end of the GOP in Charlotte?

"Not necessarily," said Heberlig, "but it does show the very high hurdles that face them."

He says when an incumbent like an Edwin Peacock, a moderate Republican who was well-funded and well-known couldn't hang onto his At-Large City Council seat:  "That makes it hard to identify what type of Republican would be a shoe in here," said Heberlig.

Certainly what hurt Peacock was the highest percentage of straight-ticket Democratic voting for a city election perhaps ever.  And one of the lowest voter turnouts in years.

Unlike past years Republicans didn't have a strong mayor to help them.

Said McCorkle:  "I don't think the candidates yesterday really picked up that much Democratic support and I think the unaffiliated stayed home."

Democrats had voter demographics and voter intensity on their side..

In fact two of the At-Large candidates who were swept into office together raised less than $7,000.  They beat two Republicans who together raised about $85,000.

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