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Local political scientists explain presidential election, effects on lower offices

Sometimes the coattails can be slippery.

“It's going to be very hard for the Republican or Democratic candidate to outpace their ticket,” says longtime political operative and Duke University political scientist, Mac McCorkle.

In an election where both major party candidates have the highest disapproval ratings ever recorded, neither has an advantage and all the candidates for lower offices on the ballot are trying to figure out how it affects them.

One way is that there may be fewer votes to win, on Election Day.

“So, the question in my mind is,” says Catawba College political scientist, Michael Bitzer, “Are those folks going to show up and if they do, is it a kind of a hold-the-nose to vote for one or the other and we may see a resurgence of the split-ticket voting pattern that we have gone away from, in North Carolina.”

Over the last 20 years, split-ticket voting has dropped, significantly, says both Bitzer and McCorkle.

But McCorkle believes the “Trump Effect,” will be something North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has to deal with, more than fellow Republican and US Senate candidate, Richard Burr.

“It's very hard for Gov. McCrory, if I'm his strategist, trying to figure out, okay, Trump at 45% - where do I go to get those other votes?  You'd say probably Charlotte - Charlotte/Mecklenburg – but the numbers coming back for McCrory based on the interstate problem, HB2, McCrory's turning into much more of a generic Republican without that Charlotte base.”

“The interstate problem,” that McCorkle is referring to is the state signing a contract for parts of I-77 into Charlotte becoming a toll road.  That plan has been put on hold, for now, but is not popular in Mecklenburg County.