Presidential politics in NC primary after Super Tuesday

Published: Feb. 29, 2016 at 10:36 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 30, 2016 at 9:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Super Tuesday could be the last chance for anyone not named Trump or Clinton to wind up in the general election, as voters in more than a dozen states will make their choices for presidential nominees. It's also two weeks before North Carolina's primary.

After South Carolina's races and Super Tuesday, voters in NC are wondering if the presidential candidates will be making the rounds.

There are over a dozen states voting on Super Tuesday. On the Republican side, people are looking at whether Ted Cruz can win his home state of Texas. On the Democratic side, people will see if Bernie Sanders can win more than his home state of Vermont and Massachusetts next door.

What's clear after SC - momentum is on Trump and Clinton's sides. If that doesn't change Tuesday, NC won't be hotly contested.

In the last two weeks, SC voters made it clear who they want as their presidential nominees: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

"It's not just South Carolina, it's the United States of America. So I think they need to continue until they come to the very end," said North Carolina voter April Davis.

Davis is a native of Charlotte and a Democrat. She doesn't know who she's going to vote for, but hopes Bernie Sanders stays in the race until March 15 when she can vote.

"It would be disappointing because I think it's keeping, by having both the candidates going back to back at each other it gives you opportunity to see what exactly pushes them to provide more of their plan," Davis said.

The primary was moved from May to March.

"I think the important thing is North Carolina citizens - all sides of the aisle - will get a chance to see candidates up close and in person in a way they would not get to do if we had a later primary," Dallas Woodhouse, the NCGOP executive director said.

Woodhouse said his party has seen a benefit to the calendar change.

"Registering Republicans and participating with the Republican party, and all voters across North Carolina, benefit from having a strong voice in a presidential nominee," Woodhouse said.

Catawba College Professor and political analyst Michael Bitzer explained why Republican lawmakers pushed for the date change.

"By moving from May to March, they thought 'this is our opportunity to have a voice,'" Bitzer said.

But Bitzer said NC won't look like SC - with lots of visits from the presidential candidates - because momentum is on the front-runners' sides.

"Anybody who wins three out of the first four primaries or caucuses generally is going to be that party's nominee, so I think Donald Trump is well on his way," said Bitzer. "For voters who are thinking about in North Carolina, 'Gee, do I really want to vote against somebody who has won in all of these states do I have that much loyalty to my candidate who hasn't won a primary?'"

Bitzer foresees Super Tuesday solidifying the sweeps Clinton and Trump have already. But, he adds, other candidates will stay in the race until March 15 because Marco Rubio and John Kasich's home states of Florida and Ohio are on the same day.

"The key thing with North Carolina is that we're a proportional system and Ohio and Florida are both winner take all so there could be some strategy to folks coming to north Carolina to try and pick up a couple delegates," Bitzer said.

Early voting in North Carolina starts this week on March 3. All party nominee races will be decided including president, governor and U.S. Senate. But the U.S. congressional races will be held in June due redistricting.

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