I wasn’t originally planning to do this one because none of the congressional races were particularly exciting affairs, but there are a few interesting things to note. For those who somehow missed what happened, or aren’t political junkies and just stumbled upon this site by accident, here are some of the highlights:
*Rep. Renee Ellmers defeated singer Clay Aiken, 59-41, to win a third term.
*Mark Walker (R) won the open seat race to succeed retiring Rep. Howard Coble, also a Republican.
*David Rouzer (R) won the open seat race to succeed retiring Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat. With Rouzer’s victory, the NC congressional delegation is now 10-3 Republican.
*Rep. Alma Adams (D) won both the special election and the general election to succeed Mel Watt, who vacated the seat several months ago. Adams was sworn in a couple weeks ago to fill out the remainder of Watt’s term.
And some thoughts on each race:
NC-01: G.K. Butterfield (D) vs. Arthur Rich (R)
2012 result: Butterfield +52
2014 result: Butterfield +47
Nothing interesting here, except Butterfield’s reduced margin of victory implies that black turnout was reduced from 2012 in northeastern NC, but that is to be expected (and does not mean that black turnout was low overall this year.) Butterfield is now chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Now at the height of his power and influence, he is probably not a strong retirement possibility for 2016.
NC-02: Renee Ellmers (R) vs. Clay Aiken (D)
2012 result: Ellmers +14
2014 result: Ellmers +17
To win, Aiken needed a couple of things to happen here. He needed a Democratic wave (he got a Republican one), a couple of mistakes by Ellmers, and a solid campaign. But first and foremost he needed voters to take him seriously. It doesn’t appear they did, though he did about as well as a generic Democrat would have, running in the same circumstances. Interestingly, it appears voters in the Cary area did take him seriously: Aiken won the Wake County portion of the district, 52-48.
Danger zones for Ellmers: Fayetteville, Cary, neither of which are strong enough in favor of Democrats to put her in peril going forward. Ellmers, or any other Republican, is certainly favored through the end of the decade.
NC-03: Walter Jones (R) vs. Marshall Adame (D)
2012 result: Jones +26
2014 result: Jones +36
Jones won 68-32. Now, that’s a thrashing. The county results show the extent of Jones’ landslide (these are whole counties in the district): he took Carteret with 78%, Pamlico with 66%, Tyrrell with 67%, Hyde with 70%, Dare with 67%, Camden with 73%, Currituck with 76%, and Jones took Jones with 65%. Anyone who knows anything about the political leanings of those counties will appreciate just how strong the incumbent’s performance was there. Hagan actually won Hyde County, so there were a lot of Hagan/Jones voters out there.
If Jones retires, some would suggest a competitive race, since there are a lot of Blue Dog Democrats remaining in this area. This analysis would be reasonable … 20 years ago. This seat belongs to the GOP.
Danger zones for Jones: Downtown Wilmington. He actually lost his portion of New Hanover County, 73-27. But there would have to be exceptional growth here for the district to trend significantly to the Democrats. It’s not happening.
NC-04: David Price (D) vs. Paul Wright (R)
2012 result: Price +49
2014 result: Price +49.5
Price improved here from 2012, suggesting strong Democratic turnout in the Research Triangle, a continued Democratic trend here, or both. Price is a retirement possibility in 2016. It goes without saying that any Democrat would be favored here, whether they be from Raleigh, Chapel Hill, or Fayetteville.
NC-05: Virginia Foxx (R) vs. Josh Brannon (D)
2012 result: Foxx +15
2014 result: Foxx +22
Foxx’s improvement can be attributed to winning the Forsyth County portion of her district, which she narrowly lost in 2012. Foxx lost Watauga County by 24 votes in 2012, she lost it by 2 this year. Thus, she ran behind Tillis in her home county. Were there Tillis/Brannon voters there? Foxx is another retirement possibility. And of course, any Republican would be strongly favored in an open race to succeed her.
Danger zones for Foxx: Suburban Winston-Salem. But there are no real ‘danger zones’ here. Another near-solid GOP seat.
NC-06: Mark Walker (R) vs. Laura Fjeld (D)
2012 result: Coble +22
2014 result: Walker +17
Democrats made some noise early on about being competitive here, but that didn’t pan out. What happened? A Republican wave year, for starters. Walker also wasn’t nearly “crazy” enough, and even in a Democratic wave, this seat would favor the GOP. Rep.-elect Walker should be OK through the end of the decade.
Danger zones for Walker: Suburban Greensboro. Northern Durham and Orange counties. In a Democratic wave year, going up against a strong opponent, and with a few missteps along the way, I could see this seat being competitive.
NC-07: David Rouzer (R) vs. Jonathan Barfield (D)
2012 result: McIntyre +0.2
2014 result: Rouzer +22
Give credit to Mike McIntyre for sensing that defeat was inevitable. He almost certainly would have lost if he had run again this year. McIntyre going out on his own terms enables him to return to the political scene if he so desires, without the ‘loser’ label … unlike some other politicians.
Danger zones for Rouzer: None. This was drawn up to be a safe GOP seat to take out McIntyre. The legislature left McIntyre no areas to which he could retreat. Going forward, the only one who can take out David Rouzer is Mike McIntyre, in a more favorable year for Democrats. But I doubt he wants to mount a comeback bid, at least for Congress.
That’s it for Part 1. Part 2 will cover Districts 8-13. Questions, comments, concerns – feel free to chime in below.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.