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NC primary election saw record turnout and narrow races

Incumbent Congressman Madison Cawthorn lost the primary election by just 1,300 votes.
Jeffrey Delannoy/Smoky Mountain News
Incumbent Congressman Madison Cawthorn lost the primary election by just 1,300 votes.

As we continue to analyze the primary election, BPR sat down with political scientist Dr. Chris Cooper from Western Carolina University to talk about voter turnout and the congressional race.

The primary saw some of the highest voter turnout during a midterm in twenty years.

Cooper says that turnout – especially among unaffiliated voters – was a huge factor in Western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional district.

“It looks like it was probably the highest voter turnout in the state of North Carolina. What we saw on the Republican side of that 11th congressional district primary was almost the exact same turnout that we actually had in a presidential year," said Cooper.

When it comes to unaffiliated voters, Cooper says they mainly voted Republican primary. In early voting, he counted 63 percent voting on the Republican ballot. He says its too early to know about election day.

"Here in the 11th Congressional district, where at least in early voting, four in every 10 votes cast in the Republican primary were not by Republicans at all," said Cooper.

North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn lost his bid for reelection Tuesday. The twenty-six year-old has been one of the most high-profile Republicans in Congress because of his “mentorship” from former president Donald Trump and a long list of scandals. GOP state Senator Chuck Edwards defeated Cawthorn by just over 1,300 votes.

The night of the election, Cawthorn told Cory Vaillancourt of the Smoky Mountain News that he blamed the Republican party for his situation.

“You never thought you would stabbed in the back so many times by the people that you thought were your friends," said Cawthorn before he conceded.

Edwards will face Democratic former Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in the general election.

To hear the full conversation about the primary election listen above.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.