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Our view: Election lessons learned

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With many ballots left to count, we could still be surprised by some of the results, both in our state and across the nation, of the 2022 election.

But many races have been decided and a few surprises have already materialized — or failed to materialize, like the “red wave” of overwhelming Republican victories many predicted — and we feel confident enough at this juncture to note a few lessons learned — and to make a few suggestions for the future.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd’s senatorial victory was decisive — and in succeeding, both he and his opponent, former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, expressed a degree of graciousness that used to be the standard but today is too uncommon.

Shortly after the Associated Press called the race for Budd, Beasley called him to concede.

“I offered him my support and encouraged him to stand in the tradition of our state, to be an independent leader that puts North Carolina first,” Beasley told her supporters.

During his victory speech, Budd said he had thanked Beasley for a competitive race and for her service to the state.

In an atmosphere that too easily strays into trash talk these days, we appreciate a bit of North Carolina civility being injected into the proceedings. We hope Budd will carry that spirit with him to Washington.

Voters awarded the seats on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education to several incumbents — who helped guide our students and educators safely through the COVID crisis — and to commonsense moderates. The board is split between five Democrats and four Republicans, all of whom seem prepared to work together for the good of our schools.

We were told during the campaign that much of the school board’s work could be dull. Good. This is no place for firebrands or attention-seekers; the school board must concentrate on ensuring our children’s safety and providing them with a quality education.

Almost a dozen states ran Republican gubernatorial candidates who expressed their reluctance, a la Trump, to accept the results of their elections if they lost.

Almost all of them lost. They include Tudor Dixon, who lost to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; Doug Mastriano, who lost to Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania; Tim Michels, who lost to Gov. Tony Evers in Wisconsin; and Dan Cox, who lost to Wes Moore in Maryland.

As we write, several have yet to concede.

Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake also explicitly refused to promise to honor election results. As we write, her race is too close to call.

One Republican running for a Senate seat in Colorado, Joe O’Dea, represented a sharp contrast.

“There’s no polite way to put it. We have become a nation of poor sports and cry babies,” O’Dea told The Washington Post before the election. “We’ll keep a close eye on things, but after the process is done and the votes are counted, I’ll absolutely accept the outcome.”

O’Dea conceded early Wednesday morning, graciously, urging winner Michael Bennet to help lead the country out of partisanship and gridlock.

Michigan, California and Vermont passed ballot measures supporting abortion rights. California’s included protections for contraception.

A measure in Kentucky, a Republican stronghold, would have amended the state constitution to deny a right to abortion. But the measure was defeated by more than 52.5% of voters who thought it too extreme.

A similar measure in Montana was failing by 52.6% as we went to press.

North Carolina currently limits abortions past 20 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy. The N.C. legislature could take up a more restrictive abortion measure — and might feel emboldened to, after Republicans gained a few new seats. But a recent poll conducted by WGHP/Emerson College/The Hill shows that while 32% of voters think legislators should make it more difficult to obtain an abortion, 39% thinks it should be easier and 29% thinks the legislature shouldn’t do anything. A word to the wise.

We don’t want to get our hopes up. But after the sour attitudes and childish rhetoric we’ve witnessed these last few years, it’s encouraging to see some civility and moderation. We need leaders who exhibit maturity and prudence and who can work together to reject extremism and mend our national divisions.

But still, perhaps the largest lesson is that we just won’t know the outcome for certain until after all the votes are counted.

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