United States Senate election in North Carolina, 1984

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United States Senate election in North Carolina, 1984
North Carolina
← 1978 November 6, 1984 1990 →
  JesseHelms.jpg North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt in 1992.jpg
Nominee Jesse Helms Jim Hunt
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,156,768 1,070,488
Percentage 51.7% 47.8%

Senator before election

Jesse Helms

Elected Senator

Jesse Helms

The North Carolina United States Senate election of 1984 was held on 6 November 1984 as part of the nationwide elections to the Senate, and coinciding with the 1984 presidential election. The election was fought between the Republican incumbent Jesse Helms and serving Democratic Governor Jim Hunt. Helms won the election, the most expensive non-presidential election in United States history up to that point, by a margin significantly reduced from that that Helms achieved in 1978.


Republican primary[edit]

1984 North Carolina U.S. Senate Republican primary election[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jesse Helms 134,675 90.65%
Republican George Wimbish 13,799 9.35%
Turnout 148,574

Democratic primary[edit]

1984 North Carolina U.S. Senate Democratic primary election[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jim Hunt 655,429 77.48%
Democratic Thomas Allred 126,841 14.99%
Democratic Harrill Jones 63,676 7.53%
Turnout 845,946

General election[edit]


Hunt had a commanding lead in opinion polls for much of the campaign, with one poll in 1983 putting him nineteen points clear of Helms.[2] However, that was changed by the most bitterly contested election in the country that year.[2] Hunt ran a campaign ad connecting Helms to death squads in El Salvador through his association with the Nationalist Republican Alliance, for whom Roberto d'Aubuisson had recently run for the President of El Salvador.[2] In the short time before election day, however, the highly popular incumbent US President Ronald Reagan gave Helms a significant boost[3] by campaigning for him and running a local TV ad praising Helms and asking registered voters in North Carolina to re-elect him.[4]

The election cost a total of $26,379,483 in total reported spending (over twelve times as much as the 1980 race), of which, 64% ($16.9m) was spent by Helms.[5]


1984 North Carolina U.S. Senate election[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jesse Helms 1,156,768 51.7%
Democratic Jim Hunt 1,070,488 47.8%
Libertarian Bobby Emory 9,302 0.4%
Socialist Workers Kate Daher 2,493 0.1%
Turnout 2,239,051

Voters Education Project (VEP) in Atlanta study showed that Helms received 63 percent of the white vote and was particularly successful in small towns and rural areas, while receiving less than 1 percent of the black vote in 35 almost-all-black precincts.[6] "Hunt got 37 percent of the white and 98.8 percent of the black vote, according to VEP. But only 61 percent of registered blacks voted, down from 63 percent in 1980."[6] While, The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Research Triangle has "more PhDs per capita than anyplace in the country" one-quarter of North Carolina's adults had not completed high school by 1984. It had among the lowest industrial wages in the United States and was third in terms of mobile homes.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "North Carolina DataNet #46" (PDF). University of North Carolina. April 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  2. ^ a b c Joseph N., Boyce; Lamar, Jacob V. (24 September 1984). "The Old South vs. the New". Time. Retrieved June 10, 2009. 
  3. ^ http://www.unctv.org/senatorno/peopleevents/events1.html
  4. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0xy5a3HikU
  5. ^ "North Carolina DataNet #25" (PDF). University of North Carolina. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  6. ^ a b c Bill Peterson (November 18, 1984), "Jesse Helms' Lesson for Washington", The Washington Post, retrieved January 16, 2017