Skip to main content

News Tip: North Carolina a ‘Must-Have State’ for Trump, Expert Says

Pope “Mac” McCorkle talks about the state’s role at the Republican Convention and in the election

Pope “Mac” McCorkle, a veteran North Carolina political consultant who is now an associate professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, talks about the state’s role at the Republican Convention and in the election. 

North Carolina delegates at the Republican National Convention

"The role of the North Carolina Republican Convention delegates is not gonna be a major one in many respects,” says Pope "Mac" McCorkle, an associate professor of the practice in public policy at Duke University. “We have a proportional state split in the Republican delegation. On the first ballot I think you should expect 29 people are going to faithfully vote for Trump, and 27 are gonna vote for Cruz and then Kasich and Rubio will get (some delegates).”“They will add up to a Trump … victory on the first ballot.”“Now if something goes haywire that’s where it does get interesting because North Carolina is more of a true-blue Republican state."North Carolina/South as a Battleground“The South is not gonna be a battleground … in general because that’s gonna be Trump territory, that’s Republican territory,” says McCorkle, who has worked as an issues consultant to political candidates and state governments, including former North Carolina Democratic Govs. Mike Easley and Bev Perdue.

 “In North Carolina I think it’s gonna be a very generic Republican-Democratic race. If Trump does not win North Carolina that really bodes badly for him. If Clinton wins North Carolina I think that’s a good sign that Clinton’s gonna to be the victor.” 

“North Carolina is a must-have state for Trump. It’s a good state for Clinton to win but it’s a must-have for Trump.”

Importance of Vice-Presidential Picks

For Trump “The way (Indiana Gov. Mike) Pence helps is that he helps solidify the true-blue solid Republican support and North Carolina, to a great extent, is a state like that.” 

“The problem for Trump is that you would hope that he would not have needed that help … and that his vice-presidential candidate would have been a value added somewhere else, but instead he’s shoring up the base support. And I think Gov. Pence does fit that bill and probably fits (with) a lot of North Carolina delegates, to be honest, better than Trump does.” 

For Clinton (Virginia Sen. Tim) Kaine would help Clinton in North Carolina mainly because he wouldn’t be a Massachusetts liberal or he wouldn’t be another kind of liberal.” 

“The strange thing that’s going on this time, based on my old experience, is the Democratic side … has had to worry about the presidential ticket and how did it fit with the state and the political culture, and did the state candidate want to be appearing with the presidential candidates.” 

“This year that’s a question almost exclusively on the Republican side and that’s a real change.” “Democratic candidates for governor and senator seem happy to show up with Sen. Clinton and are backing Sen. Clinton. And if she picked Kaine that would just add to that comfort level.” Bio:Pope “Mac” McCorkle has served as an issues consultant to political candidates, state governments, and various organizations for the last two decades. Since starting McCorkle Policy Consulting in 1994, he has worked for state and federal candidates in North Carolina as well as 28 other states. Archive video interview (different subject): (1:43 mark) additional comment, contact McCorkle                                      - - - - - - 

Duke experts on a variety of election topics can be found at

Note to broadcast editors: Duke provides an on-campus satellite uplink facility for live or pre-recorded television interviews, as well as a digital studio for interviews by Skype or Google Hangout. We are also equipped with ISDN connectivity for radio interviews. These services are usually available during normal business hours. Broadcast reporters should contact Steve Hartsoe to arrange an interview.