The Electoral Map: North Carolina

There is a lot going on here.  The congressional delegation currently favors the GOP 10-3.  Redistricting and a court-ordered new map which may see still see the light of day in the Supreme Court, upset the apple cart somewhat costing one Republican incumbent to be replaced by another Republican incumbent.  The two districts most affected by redistricting were the 13th and the 2nd.  It is safe to say that all three Democratic districts will remain in their hands.

After all is said and done, only three of the 13 districts are of much interest.  The first one of interest is the 2nd district where George Holding moves over from the 13th after his district was redrawn thus impinging on Rene Ellmers who occupied the 2nd and is a Republican.  Ellmers drew fire from many conservatives for her stance on Planned Parenthood funding and it cost her in the primary in race that was not even close in the end.  Greg Brannon also ran in this district in the GOP primary and drew almost as many votes as Ellmer.  Holding will face Democratic candidate John McNeil, an attorney.  The problem for McNeil is that he is little known while Holding (or Ellmers for that matter) are/were in the Second.

There were some interesting developments in the GOP primary race.  First, Susan B. Anthony List, which traditionally supports female pro-life candidates, supported a male opponent in a primary for the first time.  Second, Americans for Prosperity for the first time targeted a Republican incumbent for defeat.  Most importantly, Ellmers was one of the first members of Congress endorsed by Donald Trump.  At the end of the day, one would have to say that Holding will likely win this general election race.

So what happens to his former district, the 13th?  The Republican primary drew an astounding 17 candidates with Ted Budd emerging the victor with a mere 20% of the vote.  Five Democrats ran in their primary with Bruce Davis emerging the winner with only 25% of the vote over Bob Isner who lost by less than 200 votes.  This is considered a safe Republican district even after the map was redrawn.  Also, during the primaries GOP turnout was almost double that of Democrats signalling that the GOP should retain this seat.

The third district of interest- the Sixth- is on the outer fringes of interest.  Mark Walker is the Republican incumbent and he will face Democrat Pete Glidewell.  The race is of interest because Walker is a freshman Congressman.  This is Glidewell’s first run for elected office and it looks as if it will be a losing one.  Thus, at the House level it looks like there will be no changes in the DC delegation.

In the Senate race, incumbent Republican Richard Burr finds himself in a tough race against Deborah Ross, a state legislator.  Some of the problems for Burr stem from the top of the ticket where Trump is having a hard time breaking through in a state that traditionally breaks for the GOP.  Another fact is that he is a low-profile, under-the-radar Senator.  There is also the unspoken elephant in the room and one that really has nothing to do with a national issue- the transgender bathroom controversy in North Carolina.

For his part, Burr has tried to put distance between himself and that battle by asserting that it has nothing to do with his run for the Senate and to the extent it does, the state legislature went about the issue the wrong way.  In other words, he is putting it into process, not content, terms.  He has also tried to distance himself from Trump at the top of the ticket.  For all the apparent “liberal” strides in North Carolina, one theme is percolating to the top of the discussion- her leadership of the ACLU 14 years ago.  Burr is trying to paint some of her stances with that organization as being out of step with state values.  Particularly, Ross led an opposition effort against putting sex offenders in a state database.  Burr is also pointing out that Ross, despite her populist rhetoric, benefited to the tune of $267,000 in state tax credits and opposed eliminating those credits.

Burr has been down this road before running against an upstart female opponent for the Democrats and he easily dispatched Elaine Marshall in 2010.  Chances are it will be a lot closer this year, but recent polls are encouraging as the attacks on Ross seem to be resonating.  I am expecting a close Burr victory on the order of two points.

In the gubernatorial race, incumbent GOP Governor Pat McCrory may have just had a gift delivered his way courtesy of Barack Obama.  In response to flooding in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, Obama described North Carolina as how a state should act in such a situation.  McCrory finds himself in a strange situation trailing in the polls by about 2-3 points as an incumbent, but with a 50% approval rating in the state.  That 50% should almost guarantee reelection, but the polls show a different story.

The main controversy stems from that transgender bathroom law that is causing such a stink, since calming down, nationally and in the state.  McCrory’s response to the recent killing of a black suspect in Charlotte by the police is also gaining him some applause from the electorate.  At heart, North Carolina is more conservative than moderate.  The time may not be ripe for a change in the state and that is why this writer is predicting against the polls that McCrory will emerge the victor on Election Day.

As for the presidential state, North Carolina truly is one of major states of interest this cycle as evidenced by the number of campaign stops on both sides.  At the end of August, Trump was down, but up at the end of September, now down again.  However, in none of these cases did the projected margin of victory for either side exceed 1%.  This one will go down to the wire and it may be late in the night before we know who has their 15 electoral votes.  Despite all the negative press surrounding Trump, he has held close, never falling more than 4 points behind Clinton.

The closeness of the presidential race is partially what leads me to believe that McCrory will survive (as will Burr).  This one is truly way to close to call at this time, but if one had to, I would call it for Clinton by a shred with hopes that a better GOP candidate in 2020 would swing the pendulum back.

Thus, the House delegation will remain 10-3 in favor of the GOP although some names will change, Burr will win reelection, McCrory will win a close one and Clinton will take the 15 electoral votes.

After this entry, Clinton now leads in the electoral vote count 264-197.  The Senate remains tied 50-50 and the GOP maintains their lead in the House 237-198.

Next: Ohio