“They say most people get more conservative as you age, but I’ve gotten more liberal,” said Cindy Strom, an educational consultant who lives in the Charlotte suburb of Mooresville after moving from Chicago four years ago.
In a sense, Ms. Strom is like other recent transplants who are helping to transform the state’s political dynamics by bringing their liberal sensibilities to a traditionally conservative state. As the mother of a child with special needs, she said she has come to see Republicans as the party that doesn’t care about people like her. “You realize not everybody can pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” she said as she stood in the doorway of her house on recent afternoon. “Some people do need a helping hand from the government.”
But if the Republican Party and Mr. Trump were more attuned to women and working families, Ms. Strom said she might not be leaning so much in favor of the Democrats. “Had the Republicans run anybody else, I might not have voted for Hillary,” she said, referring to the 2016 election, when Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in North Carolina. “But it’s almost not about politics. I don’t think he has any morality. I don’t think he’s a very good person.”
While Ms. Strom’s vote for Mr. Biden is all but certain, she is not as firm about her vote in the Senate race. Republicans see people like her as their path to holding the Senate majority. But voters’ antipathy for Mr. Trump, combined with the exhaustion that many say they feel when it comes to politics, makes it harder for activists like Chris McCoy to break through.
Mr. McCoy, the state director of the conservative political outfit Americans for Prosperity, was preparing for an afternoon of door-to-door canvassing for Mr. Tillis in Ms. Strom’s neighborhood recently. Political division has grown so intense, he said, that many voters have shut down.
“Even the smallest things that were never political before now have a slant, and I think people are on overload,” he said. “It just never stops. And you hit a point where some of these folks are thinking they just want to turn everything off.” The organization, which is funded by the libertarian billionaire Charles Koch, has had to refine its algorithms to find its target voters, fewer of whom are registering with either of the major parties, Mr. McCoy said.
Americans for Prosperity has said it will not campaign for Mr. Trump or help with his re-election, a split that stems from differences over both substance and style. Instead, the group is using its super PAC to focus on the Senate, the battleground where other Republican-friendly organizations like the United States Chamber of Commerce are also shifting resources in an attempt to defend the majority and maintain a bulwark against the Democratic-led House — and a possible Biden White House. States like North Carolina, along with Maine and Iowa, are their firewall.