Ed Kilby places his ballot in the box on election day.
Ed Kilby places his ballot in the box Tuesday at the Braswell Center in Tarboro. Calvin Adkins / Wmforo

North Carolina voters have given Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis a second term, as he held off a challenge from Democrat Cal Cunningham.

The margin was under 100,000 on Election Day, and Cunningham did not pick up enough votes in late-arriving absentee ballots to close that gap.

Cunningham had led in some pre-election polls, but many polls have been wrong this year. He may also have shot himself in the foot with a late sexting scandal that undermined some of his support.

Congressional races

In the state's 13 House districts, most races were not especially competitive despite redrawing of the state's districts last year.

Winners included:

  • Democratic incumbent G.K. Butterfield in District 1
  • Democratic newcomer Deborah Ross in District 2
  • Republican incumbent Greg Murphy in District 3
  • Democratic incumbent David Price in District 4
  • Republican incumbent Virginia Foxx in District 5
  • Democratic newcomer Kathy Manning in District 6
  • Republican incumbent David Rouzer in District 7
  • Republican incumbent Richard Hudson in District 8
  • Republican incumbent Dan Bishop in District 9
  • Republican incumbent Patrick McHenry in District 10
  • Republican newcomer Madison Cawthorn in District 11
  • Democratic incumbent Alma Adams, who was unopposed, in District 12.
  • Republican incumbent Ted Budd in District 13

The most anti-climactic result came in District 11, where Cawthorn won an easy victory in a race that had been flooded by money and attention from across the country.

Cawthorn gloated over his victory with a tweet at 9:24 p.m. on Nov. 3: “Cry more, lib.”

In a statement released around the same time to the news media, 25-year-old Cawthorn celebrated his accomplishment on being elected the youngest member of the new Congress.

“When I look at Western North Carolina, I don't see a purple district,” he said. “I see red, white and blue. I see a proud, kind, decent and welcoming people who love our founding principles and are determined to make our imperfect union more perfect.

“I'm humbled and honored to bring these mountain values to Congress.”

For his part, Democrat Moe Davis thanked his campaign volunteers but acknowledged the decision of the voters to go with Cawthorn.

“We live in a divided America and a divided Western North Carolina,” Davis said.

“It is now up to those elected to find a way to heal the divisions, seek common ground and work together to reduce poverty, increase access to health care and protection our precious environment.”

Cawthorn's victory also drew the attention of Republicans nationally, who may seem him as a rising star.

“The people of North Carolina have sent a fighter to Washington,” said Tom Emmer, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a prepared statement.

“Madison has overcome challenges very few people have faced in life and will bring that spirit of determination to the halls of Congress.”

National outlook

Republicans gained a number of seats in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives but the Democrats will retain their majority.

For legislation that divides party members, the math to pass bills may require more intraparty and bipartisan deal-making than many members of Congress have been accustomed to in some time.

In the U.S. Senate, control remains unclear though Democrats have gained seats overall. Two Senate seats in Georgia, both currently controlled by Republicans, are headed for runoff elections in January.

If Republicans hold one or both seats, they will have control in the Senate, giving them the ability to block initiatives from the Democratic House and proposals from the Democratic White House, but only if all party members stay in line. They would also be able to block some White House nominees for key posts, including judgeships and cabinet seats.

If Democrats managed to take both Georgia Senate seats, the divide would be 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the tiebreak vote to give majority control to the Democrats for the first time in a decade.

Kate Martin, Jordan Wilkie, Victoria Loe Hicks, Laura Lee and Frank Taylor contributed to this report.

Editor's note: This article initially posted at 10 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020, but has been updated several times, most recently at 2:25 p.m. on Nov. 5.
Correction: U.S. Rep. David Rouzer is a Republican. An earlier version of this article had given his affiliation in correctly.

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