Congressional District 2: Holding (R) vs. Coleman (D) vs. Matemu (L)

Rating: Tossup

Voter Registration by Race: 71% White, 21% Black, 5% Hispanic, 3% Other

Voter Registration by Party: 35% Democratic, 34% Republican, 30% Unaffiliated

2016 Presidential Election Result: 53% Trump, 44% Clinton, 3% Other

Although CD-02 lies largely in the Raleigh metropolitan area, it includes little of the city itself – rather, the district wraps around urban Raleigh, instead consuming the suburban towns of outer Wake County and the surrounding exurban and rural areas. This arrangement was designed to keep the district in Republican hands, as it avoids Raleigh’s Democratic base while collecting center-right voters in its suburbs and conservatives in nearby rural counties.

Within CD-02, the GOP is strongest in the predominantly white, exurban and rural areas of Harnett County, northern Johnston County, and western Wilson County, while Democrats are generally more competitive (but not favored outright) in Franklin County and Nash County, both of which are home to substantial African American populations. The district’s portion of Wake County, meanwhile, is much more politically complex – although the county’s suburbs are predominantly white and traditionally Republican, they have trended significantly toward the Democrats in recent years as affluent, well-educated suburban voters are isolated by the conservative populism of Trump’s GOP.

Resultingly, CD-02 is among the most competitive of the ten North Carolina districts with Republican incumbents. Democrats won the areas currently within CD-02 in five of the ten elections for statewide office in 2012, and although the GOP won CD-02 in all ten elections in 2016, it was Hillary Clinton’s second best among the ten Republican-held districts in the 2016 presidential election. Registered Democrats also currently outnumber registered Republicans in the district by a small margin, although Democratic electoral performance in eastern North Carolina is generally weaker than voter registration statistics would suggest.

2018 Candidates

Total Raised (2017-2018) Total Spent (2017-2018) Cash on Hand (June 2018) Debts Owed (June 2018)

George Holding



$1,618,912.16 $253,284.59 $150,000.00

Linda Coleman



$142,411.84 $157,311.38 $1,500.00

Jeff Matemu


$8,867.28 $7,504.72 $1,362.56



In 2012, former federal prosecutor George Holding was elected to represent North Carolina’s 13th congressional district, succeeding Democrat Brad Miller, who had announced his retirement after the district was redrawn to favor the GOP. Holding was reelected to represent CD-13 comfortably in 2014, but court-mandated redistricting in 2016 saw most of his district move to the redrawn CD-02. Although the new map moved Holding’s Raleigh home to the solidly Democratic CD-04, he decided instead to run in the new CD-02, citing its similarity to his old district. In the GOP primary, Holding soundly defeated then-CD-02 incumbent Renee Ellmers and conservative activist Greg Brannon, going on to prevail in the general election with 57% of the vote (an identical proportion to his two previous elections).

This year, Holding – having soundly fended off challenger Allen Chesser in the GOP primary – is facing Democrat Linda Coleman and Libertarian Jeff Matemu in his bid for a fourth term (only Matemu is a current resident of CD-02). Coleman, a former Wake County Commissioner and state legislator who was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor in both 2012 and 2016, comfortably defeated businessman Ken Romley and veteran Wendy May in her party’s primary. Coleman’s lengthy political career has garnered her substantial name recognition and the ability to build an effective campaign infrastructure, as demonstrated by her convincing win in the Democratic primary.

Moreover, an August poll conducted by the Holding campaign suggests that he lags three points behind Coleman, and a poll released by the Coleman campaign in early September gives the Democrat a one-point lead. A third poll commissioned by the conservative Civitas Institute in mid-September had Coleman at a similar one-point edge, giving her a three-for-three advantage in polling results. One should note, however, that internal polls like those conducted by the Holding and Coleman campaigns often skewed, and Holding in particular may be publicizing his poll simply to suggest his race is urgent and mobilize his donors.

Indeed, Holding has focused intensely on fundraising throughout the election cycle, having raised almost two million dollars and having spent nearly the same. Coleman’s campaign revenues amount to less than one-sixth of her opponent’s, a daunting prospect especially considering the plethora of advertisements already funded by the Holding campaign. Holding, unlike Coleman, has also demonstrated his ability to win the district’s general electorate – Coleman lost the areas currently part of CD-02 in both of her bids for Lieutenant Governor, despite coming less than seven thousand votes short of a statewide win in 2012.

In this race, Coleman benefits from high name recognition, solid campaign infrastructure, and a supposed polling advantage, but Holding remains a fairly popular incumbent with a sizeable fundraising advantage in a district drawn to favor his party. We expect this race – a true tossup – to go down to the wire on Election Night.


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