Presidential candidate visits to N.C. show importance of rural and urban votes in upcoming election

Presidential candidates battle for North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina is a key swing state, making it a battleground for both the Biden and Trump campaigns.

Wednesday’s visit to Gastonia will mark at least six times President Donald Trump has visited North Carolina in less than two months. Two of those visits were to Charlotte, including the Republican National Convention back in August.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has also made several trips to North Carolina. The Democratic presidential candidate’s most recent visit was to Durham over the weekend.

The visits also show a key component of this election, a battle for votes between the rural and urban areas of North Carolina.

“We’re seeing more division between rural and urban areas in North Carolina than we used to," UNC Charlotte political science professor Eric Heberlig said.

He says the strategy is clear.

“Trump is going to Gaston County because what he needs is more votes from other rural counties like that to offset votes in Charlotte and Raleigh," he said.

Gaston County Republican Chair Jonathan Fletcher says this visit is significant in energizing voters to get to the polls, but it could do more than just garner presidential votes.

“A lot of people are going to vote for Donald Trump, but it’s important that they finish the ballot," Fletcher said. "Here in Gaston County we have over 40 races that are gonna be on the ballot so it’s also keeping those people in mind.”

Gaston County Democratic Chair Daniel Caudill knows his county will vote for President Trump, but he is also focused on the rest of the ballot.

“Think about it," Caudill said. "Donald Trump took North Carolina. So did Roy Cooper. We are a very purple state when you have demographics that closely tied, it’s anyone’s guess.”

When it comes to election night, North Carolina will be critical.

“It’s a Republican-leaning state, yet Biden is very competitive here," Heberlig said.

Both candidates do not necessarily have to win North Carolina to win the election.

“If Joe Biden wins the states that Hillary Clinton won plus WI, MI and PA, he will have 270 and will be President," he said. "The pressure is more on Donald Trump to win NC. There’s not many scenarios where he can get to 270 votes without winning a traditionally republican state like NC.”

Heberlig also said he believes in North Carolina, it will come down to how suburban, educated women vote.

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