We aren’t the only ones who are giving Republicans a heads up that they’re in trouble. There are warning signs all over the internet that the GOP’s rescue mission shows serious peril ahead in a district that President Trump won by 11.9 points and they’re now attempting to call a “swing district.”
Washington Republicans might be buying their own spin, but no one else is. Here’s the rundown of what people are saying while Republicans call a 10 point under-performance a major victory.
Five Takeaways from Republicans’ Narrow NC-09 Escape
Cook Political Report | David Wasserman
Republicans narrowly averted disaster as GOP state Sen. Dan Bishop eked out a 51 percent to 49 percent win over Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina’s 9th CD, where an absentee ballot fraud scandal last fall required a new election. But Tuesday’s results were nothing to brag about: Bishop and Republican groups spent over $6 million to barely hang onto a district President Trump had carried by 12 points.
Bishop’s win, along with GOP state Rep. Greg Murphy’s expected win in North Carolina’s 3rd CD, brings the House count to 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans and one Independent — Rep. Justin Amash in Michigan’s 3rd CD. That means Republicans will need to gain 19 seats to win the House back next fall — a task made more difficult by GOP retirements that have enhanced Democratic pickup opportunities, especially in Texas.
The results are good news for Democrats’ House majority. Although a loss would have been disastrous for GOP morale, Bishop’s win won’t do anything to persuade House Republicans — many of whom are on the fence about running again in 2020 — that they’re in position to take back control next year. According to the Cook Report’s Partisan Voter Index, there are 35 GOP-held seats less Republican than NC-09.
House GOP’s suburban slide worrisome trend for party despite narrow N.C. win
Washington Post | Paul Kane
House Republicans rushed to declare victory Wednesday following a narrow special-election victory in North Carolina, doubling down on a strategy of accusing Democrats of embracing socialism.
Despite holding the seat for more than 55 years, GOP leaders proclaimed that their win Tuesday validated their message of trying to tie every Democrat to a group of young, strident liberal Democrats and the most left-leaning presidential candidates.
That’s a risky bet for a party that continues to hemorrhage support in suburbs that serve as political cornerstones in swing states such as North Carolina, where Charlotte’s suburban voters on Tuesday continued to break against Republicans.
But Democrats see the trend going deeply in their favor — in 2016, Republicans won this seat by more than 17 percentage points. “They needed to win it, they squeaked by. I don’t think any Republican in the House, who’s concerned about his or her electoral prospects, can feel better about the situation,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters.
Democrats can still play offense in 2020 as at least 25 Republicans still in office won by less than 5 percentage points last year, including a handful who have already decided not to run again in 2020. History falls on the Democratic side, as the House majority has not changed hands during a presidential election year since 1952.
And Republicans face a conundrum if they are going to try to win back the net gain of 19 seats they need to reclaim the majority. Many of those seats look more like the suburban portions of Mecklenburg County than they do Union County, a rural county along the state border that gave the GOP candidate 60 percent of its vote.
Democrats didn’t win in North Carolina’s special election, but here’s why they’re still celebrating
Washington Post | Amber Phillips
Democrats came within two points of picking up a seat in a pro-Trump, Republican congressional district in North Carolina on Tuesday night. They didn’t win, but their results suggest strength going into 2020 on a couple of different fronts that should make Democrats feel good about keeping, or even expanding, their House majority.
This race was a good test case for Democrats’ strength with the all-important suburban voter going into 2020, and they did well there.
Trump won this rural-suburban seat in 2016 by 12 percentage points; in 2018, Democrat Dan McCready nearly won it, but the election was thrown out on allegations of ballot fraud that benefited the Republican. McCready ran for it again, in Tuesday’s do-over election, against Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop. McCready did well in the Charlotte suburbs. Generally, suburbs are battlegrounds in House races across the country next year.
But realistically, Bishop’s win portends trouble for Republicans. After the 2016 elections, there are about 60 fewer Republican-leaning districts, based on the Cook Political Report’s partisan ranking. We’re not saying Democrats can suddenly win all of those, but the fact they got close to winning in this Republican stronghold, which has sent a Republican to Congress for the past 50 years, recasts what’s possible for them in 2020.
AP Analysis: N. Carolina flashes warnings for Trump and Dems
Associated Press | Lisa Mascaro, Alan Fram and Bill Barrow
Even though Republicans won Tuesday’s race for a House seat, the narrow victory for Dan Bishop underscored the president’s problems with suburban voters who took a chance on Trump in 2016 but seem to be shifting toward Democrats. In Charlotte’s sprawling Mecklenburg County, there was a 14-point swing toward the Democrats, and there are many similar suburbs across Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania battlegrounds that will be key to Trump’s reelection.
“What’s at stake is suburban voters,” said Rick Tyler, a Republican operative. Trump’s coalition appears to be shifting as suburban women move away from the president, he said. Less clear is if they’re decidedly turning to Democrats.
The race in North Carolina was the Republicans’ to lose. The seat has been held by Republicans for decades and was only contested because the 2018 midterm results were tossed out amid allegations of voter fraud by the former GOP candidate’s campaign.
“Republicans in Washington had to spend over $6 million to barely scrape by in a district President Trump once carried by nearly 12 points,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., chair of the House Democrats’ campaign committee. “There are certainly a lot of Republicans asking themselves whether the seat they currently hold is one they can defend in 2020.”
Trump is far happier than he should be about North Carolina results
MSNBC | Steve Benen
There were two congressional special elections in North Carolina yesterday, and on the surface, the results were exactly in line with Republicans’ wishes: the GOP candidates won both, including the competitive contest election watchers were keeping a close eye on.
Republican Dan Bishop narrowly defeated Democrat Dan McCready in a special election on Tuesday in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. […]
Democrats said Trump’s unpopularity is the only reason the GOP-leaning district was competitive in the first place and that Republicans needed to pull out all the stops to win it. And, looking ahead to next year, Democrats say there are 34 Republican-held congressional districts that are more competitive than this one.
North Carolina’s 9th congressional district isn’t exactly a swing district. In 2012, Mitt Romney won it by 12 points. Four years later, Trump also won it by 12 points. Local voters haven’t elected Democrat to Congress in several decades.
It’s against this backdrop that Republicans scrambled to compete in North Carolina’s 9th, with the National Republican Congressional Committee and other outside groups investing nearly $7 million in just this one special-election contest, hoping to push an elected state lawmaker over the top in a race against a Democrat who’s never won an election. Bishop also benefited from personal visits to the district from his party’s president and vice president.
Or put another way, this should’ve been an easy one for the GOP. The fact that it wasn’t should put the party in an anxious mood, not a celebratory one.
Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election
New York Times | Richard Faucett
Dan Bishop, a Republican state senator, scored a narrow victory on Tuesday in a special House election in North Carolina that demonstrated President Trump’s appeal with his political base but also highlighted his party’s deepening unpopularity with suburban voters.
Now, as Mr. Trump heads into a re-election year, the close outcome in a district that hasn’t been held by Democrats since the 1960s confirmed once more that he energizes the left and some independents to fight against him just as much as he inspires Republicans to fight for him. In 2018, Democratic candidates flipped several G.O.P.-held House seats in districts that Mr. Trump had won, a sign of distaste among moderate and suburban voters who reluctantly backed him in 2016.
And that trend shows no sight of abating: on Tuesday, Mr. McCready actually performed better in the district’s Charlotte suburbs than he did when he lost by a smaller overall margin last year.
G.O.P. strategists on Tuesday night said the race was eerily reminiscent of the other, nail-bitingly close special elections in the first year of the Trump presidency, when the party barely hung onto a handful of House seats that in previous years they carried with ease. Those too-close-for-comfort victories, in districts from Kansas and Montana to Georgia and South Carolina, were ominous signs for Republicans ahead of a 2018 midterm election where they lost the House.
And while Republican officials said a loss in North Carolina would have accelerated the trickle of G.O.P. lawmakers retiring, they were skeptical a narrow win would stop the trend entirely given the difficulty of running for re-election with an unpopular president on top of the ticket.