'Reddish-purple' North Carolina seen as critical state in 2020 election

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- In just one week, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians will make their way to the polls for Super Tuesday.

"Just as in 2016, North Carolina is an absolute must-win for Trump. If the Democrats win North Carolina, I will boldly predict we will have a Democratic president in 2020," said Duke professor Pope "Mac" McCorkle. "It's a purple state, a swing state. It's a must-win for the Republicans."

As recently as 2008, North Carolina was seen as an easier win for Democrats. With then-President Barack Obama losing the state vote in 2012 and voters electing Republican Pat McCrory as governor, the state has since turned a reddish-purple, according to ABC News' political director Rick Klein.

In 2008, voters elected Democrat Bev Perdue as governor. In 2016, the state was split between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and President Donald Trump.

Klein said the emphasis on North Carolina is seen as heavy importance is being placed on tech, immigration, and the minority vote. He expects Republicans to easily retain the state on the national level, but Democrats will have to "reach" to win the state.

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"African-Americans are likely to support whoever gets the nomination," said Deondra Rose, research director at Duke University and the school's NC Policy Lab. I do think that for the majority of Democratic voters, unseating President Trump is a priority."

Duke professor Gunther Peck also offered his opinion on the importance of the state on a national level.

"North Carolina is a 50/50 state depending on who shows up. So there are cross-cutting factors that make this state incredibly important," Peck said. "There's a lot of hesitation among Democrats to get behind any one candidate; there's uncertainty about how to best pool their strengths. It is an incredibly fluid political moment."

Tuesday afternoon, President Trump's daughter-in-law and NC State alum Lara Trump stumped for the president at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary.

"Donald Trump is getting more votes in these primaries and caucuses than any other President in the past, right?" she asked the room full of several hundred reporters. "So we've got to keep that going right here in North Carolina. Because we've got to send a message to folks, that Donald Trump is winning this state."

Trump said she was asked by the president to win North Carolina for him.
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