A Meredith College poll out today gives North Carolina Democrats a ten-point advantage over Republicans in state legislative and congressional races, which could bolster the chances for Democrats to gain ground in the state House and Senate next week.
“If they are showing a ten-point margin at this point, that would be a blue wave,” says Gerry Cohen, former legislative general counsel when the Democrats were in power. “I don’t think anyone would have predicted this a year ago.”
Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer says that, while Democrats will face some serious challenges at the polls, a simulation correlating state Republican performance to attitudes toward President Donald Trump shows that a five-point swing against Trump would give Democrats a chance at fourteen House districts, and an eight-point swing could potentially flip twenty-eight GOP-held house seats. In the Senate, a five-point swing makes twelve seats “precarious,” Bitzer says, while an eight-point swing will make fourteen Republican Senate seats vulnerable.
The state House has seventy-five Republicans and forty-five Democrats, while the state Senate has thirty-five Republicans and fifteen Democrats. The Democrats need four House seats or six Senate seats to break the Republican supermajority and allow Democrats to sustain Governor Cooper’s vetoes of Republican legislation. To win outright majorities in each chamber, Democrats would need sixteen House seats and eleven Senate seats.
“Again, this is not predictive, but rather just a simulation, with all things being equal, of what might happen if the president’s performance becomes a potential drag on Republican legislative candidates, and a Democratic wave is powerful enough to crest over the partisan walls built up against these districts,” Bitzer wrote on his blog, Old North State Politics.
Republican efforts to secure control of the legislature through gerrymandering may backfire, Cohen says. He mentions the Republican push to place the six constitutional amendments on the ballot—including Marsy’s Law and measures that would transfer the governor’s power to appoint judges and State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement members to the legislature—which Democrats have called a ploy to get Republican voters to the polls.
“They’ve committed several own goals,” Cohen says. “They put constitutional amendments on the ballot figuring it would encourage Republican turnout and the Democrats would be afraid to oppose them, and the Democrats basically took that on and said we’re opposing everything.”
Early voting figures show Democrats have cast 42 percent of the 1.5 million absentee ballots submitted ahead of the election.
Through Wednesday, more than 1.5 million voters had cast ballots early in the 2018 election. With three more days of early voting, NC is already 32 percent ahead of all early voting in 2014. Stats below. More detail here: https://t.co/ltAqixHpyW #ncga #ncpol pic.twitter.com/1PL6HHi9ey
— NCSBE (@NCSBE) November 1, 2018