News · Press Release

What NC-09’s Razor-Thin Margin Means

What NC-09’s razor-thin margin means

In short, Democrats are in a commanding position to protect and expand the House majority in 2020. Dan McCready’s razor-thin margin in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District reinforces exactly what we know about the current state of the House battlefield: Democrats are pushing further into Republican strongholds, and Republicans are on their heels heading into 2020. Nothing could make this more clear than McCready’s improvement last night on his 2018 dominance in suburban Mecklenburg County. If Republicans are not able to make substantial gains in the suburbs, their path to the Majority contracts dramatically. In contrast, Democrats are already targeting similar suburban districts in places like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York City, Indianapolis, and Omaha.

Health Care Remains A winning Issue for Democrats

This razor-thin special election, in a district President Trump carried by 11.9 points, is a reminder that Democrats in 2020 are in position to build on their 2018 focus on Americans’ ability to afford health care.

Accordingly, health care was the last issue that Senator Bishop and Republicans wanted to talk about with North Carolina’s voters. Meanwhile, Dan McCready and both of the DCCC’s TV ads held Senator Bishop responsible for his disastrous record on health care that would harm protections for North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions and keep affordable prescription drugs out of reach for everyone.

With Democrats taking decisive action to bring down the cost of health care with their control of the House, not only will Democrats have the opportunity to hold Republicans responsible for their disastrous health care repeal agenda, they will have the chance to run on the health care packages they passed to confront the harm Republicans caused head on.

Republicans Lack A Message That Connects with Voters

NRCC Chairman Emmer has claimed again and again the NRCC’s “mandate was to make the 2020 election a choice between socialism and freedom” and promised to show voters McCready was a “socialist rubber-stamp.” But the razor-thin margin in NC-09, and McCready’s 10-point over performance of Trump’s 2016 margin showed that Democrats’ focus on kitchen table issues resonates with voters much more than Republicans’ attempts to force a baseless referendum of “socialism,” even in Republican-leaning districts like North Carolina’s Ninth.

Now, Republicans find themselves with no accomplishments other than enabling an out of control Executive, and without an impactful message 14 months from the 2020 election.

Retirements, who’s next?

As the Washington Post reported on election day, a squeaker of an election in a district that should never have been competitive could be seen by Republicans as “as a sign that they won’t be able to win the House back in 2020, and even more could retire.”

There are 34 Republican held seats that are as good or better pick up opportunities for Democrats than NC-09. If it took more than $6 million in outside Republican spending and visits from President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Donald Trump Jr in the closing days, to hold NC-09 by a thin margin, Republicans in those districts now know their seat is in play. They face a critical decision point: retire now, or spend the remaining 14 months of their time in Washington running a grueling campaign against a well-funded Democratic challenger.


Facts of this District

  • North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District has been a Republican stronghold since it was last held by a Democrat in 1963.
    • President Trump won NC-09 by 11.9 points. Romney won by 10.3 points.
    • Governor Cooper, who won statewide in 2016, fell short in this district by 11.9 points.
  • Republicans hold 34 districts that President Trump carried by 11.9 points, or less.
  • Democrats only hold 3 seats that President Trump carried by more than 11.9 points.
  • Yet in this district, Republicans are spending more than $5.4 million, mostly on TV, and the race is a toss-up going into Election Day.

The DCCC’s $5 Million Investment

  • Well before the NCSBOE unanimously called for a new election, the DCCC began investing significant staff and legal resources, as well as in data analytics, to demonstrate that the Republican candidate had committed election fraud in the 2018 general election. The investment helped lead to the Special Election.
  • After the Special Election was declared, the DCCC built a plan of approach designed to quietly invest in the race, ensure the McCready campaign had the resources to carry their message effectively, and avoid an air-war that would nationalize the race. That plan of investment included:
    • Critical focus group research in African American voter motivation.
    • Polling and modeling to understand the contours and priorities of the NC-09 electorate in a potentially low-turnout special election.
    • A highly targeted digital GOTV plan informed by the DCCC’s qualitative research in voter motivation.
    • A sustained field investment that hired local staff, activated over 7,000 volunteers, completed over 19,000 shifts, knocked over 230,000 doors, and had over 88,330 conversations with voters.
    • A strategically-timed voter registration push that registered over 1,100 new voters.
    • $1.2 million of TV and digital investment through the Independent Expenditure, focused on Dan Bishop’s record of siding with drug companies instead of North Carolinians in need of affordable health insurance and prescription drugs.
      • Read more HERE and HERE
      • The DCCC avoided nationalizing the race early, and ensured Dan McCready and Democrats were able to out-communicate Republicans down the stretch.
    • Directly helped raise over $150,000 for the McCready campaign.

that brings us to today

  • A jump ball race going into the final GOTV weekend in a district that President Trump won by 11.9 points.
  • A late $5.4 million Republican TV-focused scramble to rescue a race in which they thought they’d never need to spend.
  • A Trump rally the night before the Special Election amidst a Washington Republican panic.

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