There’s no doubt about it, 2024 is shaping up to be an exciting time in politics across the United States. We’re excited to explore why North Carolina presents a unique opportunity for independent political candidates this election year. The landscape of North Carolina politics, coupled with changing voter demographics and critical issues facing the state, creates an ideal setting for new voices to emerge.
North Carolina is a beautiful southern state that has undergone a significant transition over the past few years. One of the original 13 colonies, the state has been a reliable conservative stronghold for most of its existence, although it has seen shifts in its party affiliation.
North Carolina was initially a Democratic stronghold but turned toward the Republican party after 1968. But, Obama's narrow victory in 2008, a divided government, and changing demographics show the state's potential as a battleground in future elections.
In fact, demographic changes and pressing issues like the state of the economy, public safety, and abortion access indicate that the once solidly red state could be turning purple over the next few election cycles.
Currently, North Carolina has a trifecta of Democrats holding key executive positions in the government: the governorship, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. But, it is still considered a divided government since Republicans in both legislative chambers hold the majority.
If you’re an independent candidate looking to serve your local community or represent the Tar Heel State at the national level, 2024 could be your year to launch an independent political campaign in North Carolina.
Like many areas of the country, North Carolina is primed for change in the political arena. If you’re still on the fence about a future in local politics, here are 9 good reasons to consider running for office in North Carolina in 2024:
As of September 2023, North Carolina had 7.3 million registered voters, with a striking 36.3% (about 2.6 million) stating party independence. This translates to a net gain of more than 1 million voters - 73.18% - who have shifted away from traditional party affiliation. This significant portion of the electorate isn't committed to any major party, signaling an openness to independent candidates.
In fact, the state has witnessed a 65% increase in unaffiliated registrants from 2010 to 2021, indicating an overall shift in voter attitudes. This trend suggests that voters are seeking alternatives to traditional party lines.
The increase in unaffiliated and independent voters also indicates a shift in the political leanings of North Carolinians toward alternative candidates who run outside of traditional party politics.
Voters in North Carolina are concerned about a range of issues, with inflation and cost of living topping the list for 44% of survey respondents. Other critical issues include the economy, violent crime, abortion access, and public school quality.
The 2024 elections in North Carolina will include various offices such as the U.S. House, Governor, other state executives, State Senate, State House, and judicial positions. Since these positions don’t require party affiliation, this range of options provides multiple platforms and potential for independent candidates.
But, it’s not only state-wide races where independents have a good chance to win elections. Several Good Party-certified independent candidates won their local elections in North Carolina on November 7, 2023. Voters in Oak Island and Elon now have independents representing them on their town councils, and Oxford now has an independent mayor.
Folks in Raleigh and Winston-Salem are also looking for new mayors next year. Although the filing deadline for that race in Winston-Salem has passed, prospective mayoral candidates in Raleigh have until July 19, 2024 to file their intent to run.
Independent candidates have the chance to focus on local and state-specific issues, which resonate more closely with voters' concerns. Since independents aren’t tied to big money interests, and they come from local communities, they’re in an excellent position to address the concerns of their neighbors.
In fact, many independent candidacies grow from the grassroots of community activism.
Given North Carolina’s history as a swing state in presidential elections, an independent candidate can significantly influence the outcome of elections, especially in closely contested races. This can lead to progress in a number of areas, such as gun control and healthcare reform, that have broad voter support but aren’t being addressed by the establishment parties.
The growing number of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina indicates a desire for new perspectives and solutions. This creates an ideal scenario for independents bringing innovative ideas to the table — including ideas for electoral reform.
For example, independent voters have helped to usher in changes to the traditional electoral systems in major cities like Seattle and NYC. In fact, there are now more than 261 cities and towns across the country using alternative voting methods, like ranked choice voting and top-two primaries.
Over the past decade, North Carolina has grown in population. Its demographic makeup has also changed slightly, especially in areas like Raleigh-Durham. In Durham alone, the female population is now more than half of the voting base.
The white population has dropped slightly to just over 60%, while Hispanic and Asian residency increased to 10.7% and 3.3% respectively. The Black population in North Carolina dropped by 1% to 20.2% overall. Given these changes, North Carolina remains a richly diverse state.
This increase in population and demographic changes has earned the state an additional congressional seat, though there is currently a fight in the state legislature over redistricting. With the growing need for diverse political voices, independent candidates from varied backgrounds have a unique opportunity to represent underrepresented communities.
Outside of the two establishment parties, the Democrats and Republicans, the state of North Carolina recognizes the Green, Libertarian, and No Labels parties. However, there is no party affiliation required to run for any office in North Carolina as long as other candidate qualifications are met, and no party affiliation is required for primary voters in the state.
Although the December 15, 2023, deadline has passed to file a run for governor or president, the deadline to file your candidacy for other offices in North Carolina is March 5, 2024, which is also the date for the primaries. Primary runoffs will occur after the initial primary voting, if needed. The general election is on November 5, 2024.
This timeline gives candidates ample time to plan and execute their campaigns. If you’re intending to run as an independent, you’ll need to gather support and have your campaign up and running as soon as possible.
Fortunately, Good Party can help with that.
Are you ready to make a difference in your community and consider a run for office in North Carolina? Good Party Academy is here to support you. With tools and resources designed for people of all backgrounds, we can help you navigate the complexities of a political campaign.
But, we don’t just show you the ropes and then disappear. You’ll have access to expert guidance and continued support through every step of the election process.
Whether you're an experienced politician or a first-time candidate, our platform offers the guidance and support you need to run a successful independent campaign and represent your community effectively. Let's work together to bring positive change to North Carolina in 2024.
Join us at Good Party Academy and start your journey in independent politics today!