Voters in North Carolina’s 9th district are marching to the polls Tuesday to send Dan to Washington. The only question is which Dan will it be: Democrat Dan McCready or Republican Dan Bishop? Polling indicates the Dans were in a virtual dead heat heading into election day.
To review: Tuesday’s race, which marks the conclusion of the 2018 midterms, is the second time McCready, a former Marine-turned-McKinsey consultant, has stood for election in NC-9 in the last year. In November, the results of his race against Republican pastor Mark Harris were invalidated after evidence surfaced that Harris’s campaign contractor tampered with absentee ballots. (In February, the operative, McCrae Dowless, was indicted on three felony charges of obstruction of justice, two charges of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two charges of possession of absentee ballot.)
A do-over was declared, but Harris declined the rematch. Enter Republican State Senator Dan Bishop, who’s best known as the architect of North Carolina’s disastrous bathroom bill that reportedly cost the state some $3.7 billion before it was repealed. Bishop’s strategy has been to go all-in on Trump. When asked to name his top priority, Bishop told Politico on Monday, “I think defending the president — and being vocal about that — will be a role I intend to take immediately.”
Trump’s campaign has transferred the maximum $2,000 campaign funds to Bishop and hosted fundraisers with administration officials. Bishop toured the district with Mike Pence on Monday, before topping the day off with a massive rally featuring the president himself at Crown Complex in Fayetteville. “Tomorrow you will head to the polls to elect a congressman who will always put America first — Dan Bishop,” Trump said. “Tomorrow is your chance to send a message to the America-hating Left.”
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The district favors Republicans. The Cook Political Report rates it as more Republican than the average U.S. Congressional district by 8 percentage points; the GOP has held the seat for the last 56 years; Trump won the district by 11 percentage points in 2016. All of those conditions are why it was remarkable that McCready came so close to capturing it in 2018.
A granular analysis by Old North State Politics found that when McCready ran in ‘18, there were big shifts from the usual voting behavior in two counties where the lion’s share of NC 9th’s voters reside. Mecklenburg County went from 58 percent Republican in 2016 to 54 percent Democratic in 2018, while Union dropped from its 68 percent Republican to 59 percent Republican. The electorate in 2018 was 35 percent Republican, 37 percent Democrat and 28 percent unaffiliated. The same analysis shows early voting is up 56 percent compared to 2018.
Both parties have placed a priority on the race, pouring more than $11 million into the district. McCready spent $4.7 million on the race compared to Bishop’s $1.7 million, but outside GOP groups including the National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional Leadership Fund have spent a combined $5.4 million.
(A second, less suspenseful race to fill late Republican Congressman Walter Jones’s seat is also taking place in North Carolina Tuesday; the Republican, Greg Murphy, is expected to win that seat easily.)
“It was a very close race,” Trump told reporters on Monday, before departing for the rally North Carolina. “I think it’s getting less close. If you look at the numbers from two weeks ago — and I got involved about two weeks ago — and the numbers have gone way up. I think Dan has a very good chance of winning the election.”
And he’s certainly right about that: Dan has a 100 percent chance of winning. Congrats, Dan!