There are a number of states that could prove to be pivotal in the presidential election. Likewise, there are a number of states that could prove to be pivotal in the fight for Senate control. There are, however, few states that could be informative of the ultimate outcome for both.
North Carolina has become a key battleground and features a close presidential matchup between Trump and Biden. It also has a tight Senate race between Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham.
No party has won the state by more than 4 points over the last three cycles. Barack Obama won it by less than a point in 2008. Mitt Romney took it by 2 points in 2012. And Trump won it by a little less than 4 points in 2016, making it one of only six states Trump won by less than 5 points in 2016.
But unlike a lot of other important swing states, North Carolina has a history of voters casting a lot of ballots early. The state allows those early votes to be processed before election day, so it shouldn’t take days to count much of the vote.
The state does allow votes postmarked by election day to be counted, even if they arrive after polls close. Those votes, however, are likely to make up less than 10% of the total pool of voters. In other words, unless the race is really close (which it could be), North Carolina should give us a fairly good insight into both the presidential and Senate landscapes on election night.