Did I-77 toll brouhaha end up killing McCrory’s reelection?

“There was a lot of cash attached to this deal.  Tillis got the money and went to DC. McCrory stayed in Raleigh and took the blame and the beat-down.” —  Senior GOP source on the impact of the I-77 toll road dispute


A lot of folks out there are trying to figure out why Gov. Pat McCrory so underperformed payeveryone else on the NCGOP ticket Tuesday,  Some are blaming HB2.  Some are blaming fraud.  Some are blaming all the Yankees. 

But opponents of the sleazy deal to privatize improvements to I-77 in North Mecklenburg have come up with a pretty interesting post-game analysis on the governor’s race: 

Compared to 2012, the I-77 toll corridor cost Governor McCrory approximately 33,000 votes. […]

Drilling down to the local level, the results are even more surprising.

Cornelius is bedrock GOP establishment territory. It’s home to a state representative and senator. U.S. Senator Thom Tillis started his political career there as a town commissioner.

However, it is also ground zero for the anti-toll movement. The anti-toll group Widen I77 was founde14639610_1234082593330396_7845018947944463695_nd there, and the town board was among the first to take an official anti-toll position. The board even censured the mayor and called for his resignation because of his support for the project.

In 2012 McCrory carried Cornelius by a whopping 74%. 2016 was a different story; he barely carried a majority, at 50.6%. The total vote swing was 6,196. Given Cooper’s current margin of victory of 5,000 votes (pending a recount), Cornelius alone delivered a Cooper victory:


Huntersville was nearly as dramatic. During the primary, Republican incumbent Charles Jeter lost every Huntersville precinct to challenger Tom Davis due largely to Jeter’s early support of the I-77 toll project. And in 2015 three pro-toll commissioners and a four-term mayor were swept from office.

Apparently Huntersville wasn’t through cleaning house, because while it went 71% for McCrory in 2012, in 2016 McCrory failed to even carry a majority, garnering only 48.6%. The result was a net loss of over 10,000 votes, an electoral disaster for McCrory.


A similar shift played out in South Iredell county, another staunchly conservative region. In 2012 the eight precincts around Mooresville delivered a net margin of over 20,000 votes for McCrory. In 2016, while he still carried a majority, the margin dwindled to about 9,800 again resulting in a net loss of over 10,000 votes.

They cite the race for Thom Tillis’s old House seat as proof that HB2 really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things: laugh

The mainstream media has reported extensively about the effect of HB2 on the governor’s race. Did it play a factor in North Meck? As it turns out, the 98th House race served as a proxy for HB2. An analysis of this race provides insight into the effect (or non-effect) of HB2.

The 98th House contest pitted Republican incumbent John Bradford against newcomer Jane Campbell, a Navy veteran and lesbian. Campbell skipped the primary but decided to run as “unaffiliated” after HB2 passed. In both debates she stated HB2 was her primary motivation for running. Several anti-HB2 super PACs poured money into her race.

Both ran on an anti-toll platform, but Campbell repeatedly made an issue of Bradford’s vote for HB2. So if HB2 was an issue to North Meck voters, the results would have shown either a narrower Bradford victory (vs 2014) or even a Campbell win.

It didn’t happen.massive-crowds-show-up-for-i-77-toll-lane-summit_12186394_1452885862158_273700_ver1-0_640_360

In 2014 Bradford handily won his race by a 55-45% margin. But in 2016, Bradford’s margin of victory actually increased to 56.5-43.5%.


Drilling down further, if HB2 would have resonated anywhere in North Meck it would have been the Democratic enclave of Davidson. While Bradford failed to carry a majority in either 2014 or 2016, Bradford actually performed better in Davidson in 2016 (48-52% in 2016 vs 46-54% in 2014).

In contrast to Bradford’s improved performance, McCrory saw a net loss of over 3,000 votes in Davidson. Since Bradford did better despite (or some may say because of) his support of HB2, McCrory’s dropoff can be primarily attributed to his toll position:


Perhaps statewide HB2 may have cost McCrory votes, but it had little effect in North Mecklenburg which otherwise stayed Republican in down-ballot races. Statewide McCrory lost ~6% of Republican support, but in North Meck he lost an astonishing 21%:



32 thoughts on “Did I-77 toll brouhaha end up killing McCrory’s reelection?

  1. New Hanover, Nash, Jackson, and Watauga were all carried by Dan Forest but lost by McCrory so I would be curious to know which issues drove voters in those counties..

    The interesting one is Robeson County which McCrory carried but Dan Forest did not.

    1. Film Incentives in New Hanover County lost it for McCrory. That and the fact that his ground game never showed up to anything.

      1. Dan Forest, on the other, had a pretty solid if not spectacular ground game. I do believe the Toll roads issue contributed, but I think it was multiple unforced issues that put McCrory in this spot. The confederate flag issue isn’t getting any play in the media but I know at least several counties having prominent Daughters of the Confederacy chapters where McCrory and Forest switched roles as winner and loser between 2012 and 2016. Then there’s disgruntled conservative activists who decided to cut McCrory when they cast a ballot. ConnectNC may have played a role but if so, they cut Dan Forest some slack on that one. Hasan Harnett’s supporters are still outraged in my county, don’t know if that’s the case elsewhere, though. Across the state, all of these disgruntled former supporters were small in number but together, I suspect they added up to take away the margins that Trump, Burr, and Forest enjoyed.

          1. No because a) that would be a lie, and b) we already lost enough volunteers over the Harnett lynching, saying something like that would only drive others away, and we were already short handed going into the election.

          2. my comment was pure sarcasm because the rules of executive session bar me from telling the truth so attempts at sarcasm is all I have left

            I can say because we were out of executive session that Grandpa lied to the room when he said he did not come to the meeting to become chairman and then when confronted he said it wrote his speech the night before

            so yes Grandpa knew what he was doing and why he was at that meeting

            That was when I lost all respect for Grandpa that day

  2. This is a great analysis on the impact of the Tillis-McCrory miscalculation on the I-77 toll road issue. It is very convincing. Why didn’t McCrory just listen to the people on this? Why didn’t he just listen to the Republican voters in the areas affected? Or, for that matter, why did he go off half-cocked on the SCV license plate debacle? There seems to be a pattern here, doesn’t it?

    1. Add his betrayal of what has been a strong GOP constituency for decades, the commercial fishermen. He did an ”up yours” to the fishermen just before the election by appointing a major enemy of theirs to the Marine Fisheries Commission. That is another blunder that cost him votes.

        1. He must be talking about Brad Koury but I don’t know anything about Koury besides the fact that he was appointed just before the election.

        2. MCCRORY has sold seats to MFC AGAIN. This time days before an election and against the advice of many republican stalwarts. He let Robin Hayes control Chuck’s reappointment despite the state being sued for illegally closing flounder season. Additionally, Gov filled both At Large seats with CCA tools. Sadly I had voted for this sell out in early voting before I saw his pay to play appointments.

          McCrory made his bed. Robin Hayes made this happen too. I don’t care if McCrory loses and I hope the Dare GOP , other interested counties, and third district censure McCrory and call for Hayes to resign.

  3. A few years ago, I was shocked when my representative to the NC legislature told me that in NC, we have no provisions for recalling any elected officials. We need to petition the government to change that ASAP, especially as regards Senators. They can do a lot of harm in 6 years, and seem to be very good at amassing great wealth during their terms. I vote Republican because the Democrats are so much worse. But I would like to see Burr and Tillis gone.

    1. We just had a recall, it was the election. Forget about ever having a recall in NC or term limits.

  4. Too many tax increases under McCrory. If N.C. wants new taxes then they need to think about new items to tax instead of raising taxes on existing items. N.C. Residents are way overtaxed. Politicians need to quit voting for a raise for themselves until our jobs have been brought back and our country is straightened out.

  5. The toll road issue is a big deal. Widen I-77 did there part well. North Carolina Citizen’s Against Toll Roads (nccatr.org) also voted against McCrory. This is shown is House District #36 where Nelson Dollar barely won over Jennifer Ferrell and in Senate District #17 where Tamara Barringer barely won over Susan Evans. Both winners lost previous support from local Republicans because of Tolling as did Pat McCrory. Look for continued efforts to stop tolling this January when NCGA begins there work. In guessing I think McCrory may have lost up to 50,000 Republican votes due to his stance on Toll Roads. How do those toll roads taste now Pat?

    1. Exactly! Thank you Jerry for all you have done to help save North Carolina from the corruption of toll lanes. If McCrory manages to pull off a win, will he have learned anything? There are thousands of Republicans who would like to come home to the GOP. Cancel the toll contract.

  6. Once Karl Marx Rove appeared in Thom Tollus’ primary, the crony capitalist fix was in. Being ignored re toll roads theft from citizens (outside Charlotte proper) was the last nail in coffin. Recall would be great. Meantime, McCrory paid the price, TILLIS should try to enjoy balance of his one and only term.

  7. This temper tantrum by the low-information anti-toll herd just shows how the “Useful Idiots” can still be herded like sheep when being fed a steady stream of dis-information. Particularly on a subject that 90+% of North Carolinians have no clue about, how a transportation project happens. But they will suffer the backlash of a Republican Super Majority in both Chambers of the NCGA whose job was made more difficult if the election results stand. I guess that the “Durham Debacle” may keep us from knowing who the Governor, Attorney General and the State Auditor will be for a while? But we will ALL lose with a Governor Ol’ Roy!

  8. What the rest of the state does not understand, is that the hot lanes on I77 won’t work. It is a corrupt plan that Cintra gets paid up front from Federal and state taxes, and when it goes BK, which it will, the state is left with 80% of the debt that has already gone to Cintra. The road design is expected to add 8 deaths a year. On a two-lane Interstate there will be merging from right and left from the tolls. Congestion will be doubled from the merge effect. And accidents will be higher as well.
    We are the only major artery in the state that is being saddled with these high cost, high fee toll lanes that will not fix congestion. It will make tourism, trucking, commuting more miserable than it is now. I77 has never been widened after Charlotte widened. So the suburbs were given a bottleneck to corral cars only into toll lanes. Semis are restricted from the tolls due to 1/2,thickness of pay event that NCDOT is allowing. The lost business, tourism etc revenues will also hurt the state!
    It’s a corrupt deal to attempt to force people to live and put business in South Charlotte where Bissell HQ is and CEO Curran of Bissell has been Cramming these toll roads at every possible turn. Curran is Chair of the Transportation Board and Charlotte Chamber. And good buddies with McCrory. Four towns and two counties requested slowing down or cancelling the contract and McCrory ignored or played games. He deserves this loss. And so does Curran.

  9. Get a grip…McCrory lost so lets move forward and work with Govl Cooper. As Trump has requested…we all need to come together as one and work across the aisle towards making NC and The Uniited States Great Again!

    1. Roy Cooper is a George Soros / Tom Steyer left winger. We need to resist his far left vision, NOT work with him!

  10. McCrory’s appointment of non-Republicans to his cabinet and other high policy makng positions has come back to haunt him due to the bad policy that these appointees are associated with, and the adverse political impact of those policies.

    Non-Republican Transportation Secretary Tony Tata was a key is pushing the toll roads. Tata, a failed school administrator brought over 4 or 5 career public school bucreacurats who were also not Republicans from Wake County Schools for top positions at Transportation.

    The key person in the administration advancing the cause of the radical environmentalists of the CCA against the commercial fishermen was non-Republican DENR Secretary (and more recently Commerce Secretary) John Skvarla, who had run an environmental business before joining state government.

    With the SCV license plates, it should have been the Secretary of Cultural Resources who ran interference to stop that madness, but unfortunately McCrory appointed a liberal Democrat to that position.

    I hope that Dan Forest takes note of the need to appoint solid policy-oriented Republicans to the key policy making positions. Jim Martin took that approach and he coasted to reelection.

  11. John Steed is exactly correct in his analysis. The situation in the Department of Cultural Resources has been particularly bad. McCrory’s appointment of a liberal Democrat to head that department was a fatal mistake. Even after the SCV license plate fiasco, she made no effort to reach out to the SCV and repair the damage. In fact, the Cultural Resources Department has put most of its effort these past four years into the planning and building of a monument to blacks on Capitol Square. Only a carpetbag governor from Ohio like McCrory could have fallen for such an idea. Black voters certainly rewarded him on election day. Sad.

    1. Carpet bagger? Really? He moved here in the fifth grade. I think that counts as being raised here. McCrory has made plenty of mistakes, the one that caused thousands of Republicans to desert him is the toll issue. McCrory directed Tata to sign the toll contract. The NC DOT works at the pleasure of the Governor. There is no excuse for the way he has treated his constituents. Elected officials who ignore the people deserve to be voted out of office.

  12. Here is another factor. We have had a bunch of spineless twits on the SBOE who have given the Democrats a whole lot of what they wanted, such as overruling county BOE’s to put early voting in partisan sites that tilted heavily Democrat instead of limiting them to neutral sites, and overruling county BOE’s to give schedules that were partisan for Democrat voting. I wonder how many extra votes that got Roy Cooper? Then there is the director who hired a ”voting outreach specialist” who went around for a year telling local groups that election fraud was okay until she got taped doing it and was fired, and tolerated a senior staff member going on camera in an ideological hit piece attacking the voting process in North Carolina. Worst of all, she tolerated a staff caught plotting to allow unsigned voter registrations to be processed (and may have been) in total violation of election law.

    We need somebody in the NCGOP to take the bull by the horns and clean house on the SBOE among its GOP members, and the new board needs to hire a new director. Of course, if the Cooper lead holds, none of that will be possible.

    Democrats have tilted the playing field in their favor at the BOE in spite of GOP ”control”, and that may have been decisive in the governor’s race. Robin Hayes should be ashamed of the names he submitted to Governor McCrory for appointment to the SBOE.

  13. Don’t overlook GOP Ch Hayes’ influence on MFC appointments. The CCA and NC Wildlife Federation are pleased with his delivery of their message. Grassroots is not.

    Browny Douglas

    1. Outside of social issues, it would appear that Hayes is absolutely clueless on issues. That is not a new thing. He defeated himself for Congress by being clueless about NAFTA. He promised his constituents to oppose it, then flipped on the issues when pressed by K Street, and then had his angry constituents toss him out of Congress for betraying them.

      It is somehow not surprising that a clueless elitist like Robin Hayes would betray the commercial fishermen for a radical environmentalist group like the CCA that wants to put them out of business. It is not too different from Hayes voting for NAFTA which put a whole lot of businesses out of business in the 8th Congressional District.

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