NC election results - Analysis from around the state

Democratic consultant Thomas Mills wrote at his website PoliticsNC that there was no "Blue Wave" because Democrats killed it with the Kavanaugh hearings. 

To engage these voters, Republicans needed to make fear of the Democrats greater than dissatisfaction with the president. Democrats and progressive activists came to their aid with the Kavanaugh hearings. They started with Senators using the hearings as a venue to audition for 2020,  with several trying to show that their moral outrage over the nominee matched that of the protesting base. They ended with activists calling Kavanaugh a rapist despite a lack of evidence and incidents of Republican leaders being run out of public spaces by protestors screaming at them.

The antics may have satisfied the already-fired up Democratic base, but they also awakened those sleeping Republicans. In their opinion, progressive activists and Democratic opportunists proved that they could act as poorly as the president, turning the confirmation hearing into a circus and trying to railroad Kavanaugh instead of seeking the truth. They might not be willing to get excited about Trump but they wouldn’t sit by while Democrats harassed the people they considered the responsible GOP leaders.

Mills believes we saw "a realignment that will last for decades."

He'll join us to discuss today at 4:05.

John Hood from the conservative John Locke Foundation:

North Carolina is a closely divided state. We are going to have highly competitive elections for years to come. The 2018 results actually present both parties with tough challenges.

Republicans are clearly struggling to hold the loyalty of inner-suburb voters in counties such as Mecklenburg, Wake, and Guilford. While disaffection with Trump was surely one factor, GOP candidates also failed to align their messages with the priorities of these voters.

At the same time, Democrats fell short in a number of potentially winnable races elsewhere in the state. They can break supermajorities by winning urban districts. But that won’t be enough to put them in charge of the state legislature.

Jonathan Kappler from the NC Free Enterprise Foundation had one of his trademark video rundowns of the results and what it could mean for how the state government operates in the coming year. I found his observation about the Democrats' inability to win rural districts interesting:

Rural districts that Democrats won - by and large - Eastern North Carolina with significant African-American populations. And so, as you're thinking about how this going to impact politics and policy-making going forward at the state legislative level in North Carolina -- the rural voices within the Democratic Party are largely going to be coming from the Legislative Black Caucus. Any cohesive group in a legislative body where the margins have shrunk (as they have in the state House right now) ... is going to have potential power.

Dr. Michael Bitzer from Catawba College analyzed how much (if any) impact President Trump had on NC races farther down ballot in 2016... and does that explain the GOP performance in 2018.

Unlike in the state senate, Trump's 2016 vote percentage explains 82 percent of the 2016's GOP state house candidate's vote percentage in the 2016 version of the district; a little lower, but still a powerful variable used in explaining how the GOP state house candidate's performance would be based on Trump's vote.

What this tells me is that in North Carolina, the 'top of the ticket' (i.e., Trump's vote) is a powerful explainer of, or correlation to, a key 'down ballot' election.


considering that both chambers saw an increase in the power of correlation between the two factors, it may mean that the North Carolina's partisan loyalty voting has increased in strength. More analysis (and a deeper sense of the various factors in a district) will be important to confirm this hypothesis, and hopefully that will be done in the next few weeks.

As I would think about this preliminary analysis, what we are seeing, potentially, is the strength and power of voting at the presidential level and its influence at the general assembly level, and that presidential party loyalty is strongly associated with state legislative party loyalty. Meaning, it appears that partisanship dominates down the ballot and tribalism through voting is intense.

You can see the full analysis at Bitzer's blog - Old North State Politics.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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