President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — President Donald Trump has won the presidential battleground state of North Carolina over Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Trump campaigned aggressively in North Carolina with in-person rallies at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, including gatherings in Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and Greenville. Biden had largely kept off the physical campaign trail and did not personally visit the state in the last 16 days of the election.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper fared much better than Biden, winning his race against Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on election night Nov. 3 by more than 4 percentage points.

Biden’s campaign hoped the counting of as many as 116,000 mail-in absentee ballots in subsequent days would overwhelmingly swing in his favor, but he fell short of surpassing Trump. Most of the state's counties reported official results to the state on Friday after they finished tallying their ballots. The State Board of Elections will certify the results by Nov. 24.

By Friday afternoon, there were not enough outstanding ballots remaining to be counted that would allow Biden to overtake Trump’s lead of 73,697 votes, or 1.3 percentage points.

Regardless of North Carolina, Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania on Saturday propelled him past the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidential election. Trump’s win in North Carolina gives him 15 electoral votes, reducing his deficit to 290-232. Trump has refused to acknowledge his electoral defeat and has chastised news organizations for taking too long to call North Carolina in his favor.

Biden holds a slim lead in Georgia, where 16 electoral votes are up for grabs. The race remains too close to call and is undergoing an audit.

The former vice president frequently criticized Trump’s handling of the virus and his decision to hold in-person rallies with minimal mask wearing.

Biden's supporters are disappointed by the president's refusal to concede the election.

“No president has ever tried to hang on like the way this president has,” said Stephan King, a 66-year-old Durham resident. "The president thinks this is a kingdom. This isn’t a kingdom. It’s a democracy, OK? I don’t know if you’ve been watching too many Game of Thrones, but you need to stop because this is a democracy.”

Trump sought to convince voters he would be better equipped to restore the economy to its pre-pandemic strength.

Timothy LeCornu, a 59-year-old self employed online marketer living in Raleigh, hoped Trump's economic message would resonate with racial minorities.

“Trump has exploded the economy wonderfully,” LeCornu said. “He’s brought so many people, blacks and Hispanics and women, their unemployment levels are so low, going down, down, down before the COVID thing. That’s awesome. That’s amazing. It’s just stellar. That’s what you want in a politician.”

Trump carried North Carolina in 2016 over then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Former President Barack Obama was the most recent Democrat to win the presidential race in North Carolina, in 2008.


Editors Note: The Associated Press declared Donald Trump the winner in North Carolina on Friday after concluding there were not enough outstanding ballots remaining to be counted that would allow Joe Biden to overtake Trump’s lead of 73,697 votes. Friday was the deadline for counties in North Carolina to certify their results. Following updates from most counties in the state, Trump leads Biden by 1.3 percentage points.


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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.