In a much-ballyhooed House special election Tuesday in North Carolina’s 9th District, Republican Dan Bishop won a narrow 50.8%-48.6% victory over Democrat Dan McCready. The media had blown it up as a harbinger of the 2020 election, claiming that if the Democrat won, it could mean a “blue wave” and possible losses for Trump and the GOP Senate. As it is, they’re trying to spin the Dems’ narrow loss as a sign of leftwing enthusiasm and eroding GOP support, since that district went for Trump by 12 points in 2016. Remember, according to the media, every Democratic win is a sign of rising Democratic support, while every Republican win is either an outlier or voter fraud.
The truth is this race was hardly indicative of any national trends. It represented an extremely unusual set of circumstances, including a scandal that forced a special election, massive media coverage, an off-year election with no higher race coattails, and ridiculous levels of spending (over $6 million on each side by the campaigns and outside groups combined), all of which can affect turnout and distort the results. To show how unique this race was, in another special election in North Carolina’s 3rd district, the Republican won by 62%-to-38%. That exactly matches the partisan breakdown of the district. There were zero defections on either side.
A couple of actual takeaways from the North Carolina races:
By snarking that it took a “last-minute Trump rally” to help Bishop win, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos was tacitly admitting that Trump is not the unpopular pariah the media keep telling us he is and he can still fire up the base to go to the polls.
Also, few people who are trying to use the 9th District race to predict the next election are mentioning the biggest thing about it that makes it completely inapplicable to the 2020 Presidential race: Democrat McCready was a fresh-faced ex-Marine and Iraq War veteran running on a platform of moderation, pocketbook issues, and working across the aisle to end partisanship and solve problems for America.
If you can point out even one Democratic Presidential candidate with a remote chance of winning the nomination who is in any way comparable to that, then I’ll worry that Trump voters might support him/her instead.