This morning, we educated the masses on the importance of Republican Thom Tillis getting to 40 percent (plus one) in today's North Carolina GOP Senate primary. In short, he (and the national GOP) would much prefer to avoid a two-person runoff against a tea party-aligned candidate, and he needs that percentage of the vote to do so.
Which begs the question: How do we know whether he's accomplishing that?
That's where The Fix comes in. For those following tonight's results in real time, we have broken down approximately how Tillis will need to do in each county in North Carolina.
To do so, we look at now-Gov. Pat McCrory's (R) 2008 gubernatorial primary,which just happens to give us a pretty good analogy.
The former Charlotte mayor, like Tillis, hails from Mecklenburg County, the largest in the state. Like Tillis, he was also the GOP establishment favorite running against some candidates who tried to outflank him on the right. For Tillis, that's Greg Brannon and pastor Mark Harris; for McCrory, it was state Sen. Fred Smith.
All of which is to say the 2008 primary results are pretty instructive when it comes to about where Tillis needs to be as the numbers roll in tonight.
Here's the map for the McCrory-Smith race six years ago. You'll note that Smith (the brown counties) did much better in eastern and western North Carolina, while McCrory excelled in the Charlotte area (including neighboring Gaston and Union counties) and the more of the central part of the state.
Overall, McCrory avoided a runoff with 46.1 percent of the vote -- 6.1 percent clear of the threshold. So we subtracted six points from his share of the vote in each county to give you a reasonable facsimile of the path to victory for Tillis.
Of course, this is hardly a perfect measure. Plenty of things have changed in North Carolina since 2008, and Tillis's race isn't exactly the same as McCrory's. But for those following tonight's returns, this should help.
If you were to watch one county tonight, keep an eye on Wake County (home to Raleigh). If Tillis can get 40 percent or more there (McCrory got slightly less than that), he'll probably be in good shape.
(The 10 biggest counties are bolded, including Tillis's home of Mecklenburg County. And here are the county-by-county results for comparison's sake.)