As the 2018 midterm elections near, the electorate anticipates what could mark a monumental change in American politics. The biggest change could take place in the House where Republicans are desperately trying to retain their majority; FiveThirtyEight currently gives Democrats between a 76 and 81% chance of gaining control. The implications of this change are evident and immediate. If the Republicans lose the House, it will be more difficult for President Trump to fulfill many of his campaign promises and enact policies in areas such as immigration and tax reform. Although the overall prediction by FiveThirtyEight favors Democrats, many House races are highly competitive. Three of these competitive races are being held in North Carolina, the closest one being just one county over from Durham County in Wake County (District 2).
To provide some context, North Carolina has been a historically Republican state, voting for Republican candidates in nine of the last ten presidential elections. However, the state has recently become more politically neutral. This is demonstrated by recent competitive elections and in the state’s election of its current Democratic governor, Roy Cooper. But because of gerrymandering–the result of a long-time Republican majority in the state legislature–North Carolina’s Republican representatives still outnumber Democratic representatives 10-3. All three competitive races in North Carolina this November are for seats currently held by Republicans, which could significantly alter the ratio of Republican to Democratic representatives in the state.
These three races are in North Carolina’s 2nd, 9th, and 13th Districts. In the 2nd District, incumbent George Holding is defending his seat against Democrat Linda Coleman and Libertarian Jeff Matemu. Just two polls have been conducted for this race, which is not enough to come to a solid expectation. Nonetheless, one poll predicts a Holding victory by 0.6% while several others predicts a Coleman victory by margins no greater than one percent. While inconclusive, this shows that the race is competitive and could lead to a win for either of the two main candidates. The 9th District holds a race between Republican Mark Harris (who defeated the incumbent in the primary), Democrat Dan McCready, and Libertarian Jeff Scott. This race will probably be even more competitive. FiveThirtyEight gives both candidates just around a 1 in 2 chance of winning with the average of polls predicting a Republican victory by 0.1%. Other polls from the Citivas Institute predict a Democratic victory by 4 points as of early October. The 13th District race is another competitive race between incumbent Republican Ted Budd, Democrat Kathy Manning, Libertarian Tom Bailey, and Green Party candidate Robert Corriher. Polling for this election is mixed, but generally leans Republican, albeit by a difference within the margin of error for all polls.
Each of these elections are of high importance for Republicans and Democrats, contributing to the overall compositional change of the House. For this reason, voters should be energized and motivated to vote early or on election day. As for those of us looking in on these elections from outside, we will have to see whether voters will contribute to Democratic momentum or if Republicans can hold onto these important seats.