ing signs of losing his grip on himself. "He's really getting paranoid. I've noticed his desperateness, the name-calling. He really can't take the pressure. I'm amazed at the way he is acting. I hope he lasts out the remainder of the campaign." Helms spoke similarly of Hunt, saying, "He is desperate, he is harried, he is frustrated, he is frightened, and that's the size of it."
Yet, as election day dawned, neither the senator nor the governor had broken under the strain of one of the hardest-fought political struggles in North Carolina's history.
Early Tuesday evening, November 6, even before the lines had diminished at some East Coast polling places, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings began telecasting news of Ronald Reagan's avalanche. On the fifty-state wall maps in the network election centers state after state lit up for Reagan, as results from exit polls were analyzed and announced. It was a thunderous affirmation for the incumbent president, encompassing all age, economic, sexual, and ethnic groups (except blacks and the jobless). The Reagan-Bush ticket won 59 percent of the popular vote and the greatest electoral romp in history--525 votes, leaving only 13 for Mondale-Ferraro.
The President's landslide could be explained simply in the words peace, prosperity, patriotism, and personality. Mr. Reagan's victory stemmed from citizen confidence in a booming economy; command leadership exercised by an attractive, relaxed chief executive; the prevailing climate of peace, uneasy though it might be; and an earnest but inept Democratic opposition campaigning on issues perceived as bankrupt by a majority of the voters. Beneath the surface the President's triumph seemed to represent the second stage of a political realignment, a turning away from the welfare state toward the "Opportunity Society."
In North Carolina and other states of the old Solid South this shifting alignment appeared even more dramatic than it did in the nation as a whole. Reagan carried the state by 62 percent, but the erosion ran deeper, washing out Democrats at the statehouse and courthouse levels along with their brethren at the top of the ticket. Pundits carefully noted that, nationally, the Democrats gained two Senate seats and lost only fourteen House