Roy Cooper vs. Pat McCrory: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For 2016 North Carolina Governor’s Race

Roy Cooper vs. Pat McCrory: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For 2016 North Carolina Governor’s Race
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Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide for the Roy Cooper vs. Pat McCrory Governor’s race? One that will give you an accurate, no-spin comparison of the candidates’ positions on key issues? Our Campus Election Engagement Project is a national nonpartisan initiative working to increase student electoral participation. At the request of the schools we work with, we’ve created concise nonpartisan candidate guides for the presidential race, for the importance of the 2016 election on future Supreme Court decisions, and for 20 Senate and Governor’s races, including this Governor’s race. Our lead researcher spent 19 years as a senior editor at Encyclopedia Britannica, and we invite readers to share this and our other guides as widely as possible

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Roy Cooper and Pat McCrory. Visit our Nonpartisan Candidate Guides home page to find links to all our other guides, including the North Carolina Senate Guide, with most available in both online/mobile friendly and printable PDF formats.


Abortion: Should abortion be highly restricted?

Cooper: No

McCrory: Yes

Campaign Finance: Do you support increasing restrictions on campaign donations?

Cooper: Yes

McCrory: No

Climate Change: Believe that human activity is the major factor driving climate change?

Cooper: Yes

McCrory: No. Denies that there is scientific consensus and says “There has always been climate change.”[1]

Climate Change: Should government limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?

Cooper: Yes

McCrory: No. Strong opponent of regulation.

Education: Increase funding for K-12 education?

Cooper: Yes

McCrory: Contested. Says has increased funding. Others claim funding cuts compared to population growth.[2]

Education: Provide vouchers to parents to send their children to private schools with public money?

Cooper: No

McCrory: Yes. Strong voucher proponent, shifting money from regular public schools.

Education: Increase funding for higher education?

Cooper: Yes, including financial aid to make community college free.

McCrory: 2015-2017 budget contained significant cuts, although state still third in public support per capita.[3]

Gay Rights: Support gay marriage?

Cooper: Yes

McCrory: Personally, no. But once Supreme Court ruled, vetoed a bill that would allow government officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Gay Rights: Position on law requiring transgender people to use bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate?

Cooper: Opposes. Has denounced as “discrimination” and “a national embarrassment.”

McCrory: Supports and signed the controversial law.

Gun Control: Enact more restrictive gun control legislation?

Cooper: Yes. Strengthen background checks and refuse sale to people on terrorist watch list.

McCrory: No. Signed law allowing concealed firearms to be carried in bars and restaurants and removing gun sale information from public records.

Healthcare: Repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?

Cooper: No. Refused to join multistate lawsuit to overturn.

McCrory: Yes. Has historically opposed it.

Healthcare: Accept federal funds so Medicaid will cover people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty line?

Cooper: Yes. Made it a key campaign plank.

McCrory: Has rejected Mediaid expansion. Recently sought waiver for possible alternative plan, but unclear if will cover full eligible population.[4]

Marijuana: Decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?

Cooper: Wants to move slowly and study impact in states that have legalized it.

McCrory: No, with one except exception for legalizing CBD oil to treat epilepsy.

Minimum Wage: Raise the minimum wage?

Cooper: Yes. Says it’s especially important since McCrory’s elimination of NC’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

McCrory: No

Renewable Energy: Support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?

Cooper: Yes

McCrory: No. Strongly opposes prioritizing renewable energy.

Taxes: Signed Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose “any or all” tax increases to raise revenue?

Cooper: No

McCrory: Yes

Taxes: Increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?

Cooper: Yes. Wants to roll back tax cuts for wealthy.

McCrory: No. Argues that top bracket tax cuts improved state’s economy.

Voting Rights: Support stricter voting rules such as voter ID requirements or reduced registration times, even if they prevent some people from voting?

Cooper: No. Wants to roll back 2013 Voter ID laws, reinstate same-day registration and expanded early voting, and allow online registration.

McCrory: Yes. Supports NC’s strict Voter ID law that a federal appeals court struck down for targeting African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.” McCrory Asked Supreme Court to reinstate law.


Other gubernatorial candidates include Lon Cecil (L). Due to limited space, we can’t include his positions, but invite you to check out his website.

Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included,,,, ,, and public candidate statements. For a guide to all races, see, from the League of Women Voters, and


[1] Under McCrory’s watch, the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) removed links and documents regarding climate change from its website.

[2] Reports and opinions about McCrory K-12 funding reflect widely different interpretations of data. See Politifact’s analysis, Ballotpedia’s factcheck. and, What’s up with Education Policy in North Carolina, by former New York Times education editor.

[3] See analysis by Higher Education Works. McCrory says the State spends the highest percentage of revenue on Higher Ed (it’s third per capita). Does spend higher percentage of revenue on higher education than other states.

[4] Says he wants to focus on improved health outcomes instead of number of people covered. Unclear whether it would cover full eligible population.

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