Republicans captured a supermajority in the State Senate, but fell one seat short in the House, meaning they will need to reach across the aisle in that chamber to overcome any potential vetoes from Governor Cooper.
The party celebrated their gains during a press conference Wednesday.
"Today's a good day in North Carolina to be a Republican," said Senate President Phil Berger.
"We now have 71 seats in the House. Would I like 72? Of course I would like 72. But I will tell you for all intents and purposes, we have a governing supermajority. We have a handful of Democrats who work with us. We have some new members coming in, and I feel completely confident that should we need to override vetoes, we'd be able to do our part in the House as well," added House Speaker Tim Moore.
Governor Roy Cooper reacted to the votes in the State House and State Senate, tweeting Tuesday night:
"We stopped a GOP supermajority tonight when North Carolinians voted for balance and progress. I'll continue to work with this legislature to support a growing economy, more clean energy, better health care and strong public schools."
"It's not as bad as Democrats had worried about, nor as good as the Republicans could have hoped for. But it still puts the Governor in a much less powerful position. And that for the Democrats in the state, that's a difficult position to be in, particularly when you also realize that the State Supreme Court has gone Republican, because that used to be the Democrats backstop. If they couldn't deal with some issues legislatively, then maybe they can bring a case in the court system and the Supreme Court was on their side, but that no longer exists, " said Meredith College Political Science Professor Dr. David McLennan.
"It would have been much harder for the Republicans with the previous numbers. Now just needing one vote in the House, they can really make a play for it on certain pieces of legislation," said NC State Political Science Professor Dr. Steven Greene.
The new breakdown could mean a stronger push on issues like the budget or tax cuts, where Republican leadership may feel strongly about their chances to win the necessary support.
"I think they'll have a legislative agenda going forward into the 2023 long session which will be helped by the fact they picked up seats in the elections yesterday, but I don't think the most radical agenda being pursued," said McLennan.
Unknown is if and how Republicans will address abortion. Leadership shared they did not bring up the issue legislatively following the Dobbs decision in June because they did not have the votes to overcome a veto. Wednesday, they declined to share any specific plans or proposals on the topic. Currently, a 20-week ban is in effect statewide.
"I think if (Republicans) are smart, they would put forth a 15-week ban which is very popular among the public, will divide Democrats, will almost certainly pick off some more moderate Democrats," said Greene.
That move would likely avoid the pushback legislators in other states have faced for enacting tight restrictions on abortions, but may not appeal to the base; a report from the CDC found in 2019, 92.7% of abortions took place at or before 13 weeks.