Congressional District 9: Harris (R) vs. McCready (D) vs. Scott (L)

Rating: Lean Democratic

Voter Registration by Race: 65% White, 22% Black, 4% Hispanic, 9% Other

Voter Registration by Party: 39% Democratic, 32% Republican, 29% Unaffiliated

2016 Presidential Election Result: 54% Trump, 43% Clinton, 3% Other

CD-09 is located along the central portion of North Carolina’s southern border, stretching from suburban Charlotte in the west to suburban Fayetteville in the east. The western portion of the district is largely responsible for its Republican lean – southern Mecklenburg County and western Union County are home to affluent, predominantly white GOP areas, including south Charlotte and the suburban towns of Matthews, Mint Hill, and Indian Trail. The remainder of the district, meanwhile, is predominantly rural but ancestrally Democratic, dominated by white, conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats, African American voters, and Native American voters of the Lumbee tribe (Robeson and Scotland counties). Many Blue Dogs have left for the GOP in recent years, but the rural portions of the district still typically support Democrats – every county in CD-09 east of Union votes solidly Democratic in most statewide and local races, although the predominantly African American precincts of Bladen and Cumberland were drawn into neighboring districts to dilute Democratic influence (this also explains why the western portion of CD-09 avoids urban Charlotte).

GOP legislators crafted CD-09 anticipating southern Mecklenburg and western Union to solidify the district’s Republican lean, aided by the GOP trend among white voters in its otherwise Democratic rural areas. However, the countering Democratic trend among affluent, well-educated voters in suburban Charlotte has been stronger than expected – every single precinct in the Mecklenburg County portion of the district, for example, provided greater support to Hillary Clinton in 2016 than to Barack Obama in 2012. Indeed, CD-09 was Hillary Clinton’s third best district among the ten in North Carolina drawn to favor Republicans, suggesting it is quickly developing a competitive dynamic. Democrats also maintain a seven-point voter registration advantage over Republicans in the district, largely due to continued Democratic strength among registered voters in its rural counties.

2018 Candidates

Total Raised (2017-2018)

Total Spent (2017-2018) Cash on Hand (June 2018)

Debts Owed (June 2018)

Mark Harris


$931,015.62 $598.437.34 $295.658.09


Dan McCready


$2,673,739.25 $869,933.92 $1,803,805.33


Jeff Scott


$0.00 $0.00 $0.00



Congressman Robert Pittenger was first elected in 2012, becoming the sixth consecutive Republican to represent his party’s longest-held congressional seat in North Carolina (no Democrat has represented CD-09 since 1963). However, CD-09 was then located wholly within the Charlotte metropolitan area, and redistricting in 2016 replaced much of the district’s Charlotte suburbia with rural areas east of the city. This change, along with a federal investigation into Pittenger’s real estate company, sparked a 2016 GOP primary challenge from Charlotte pastor Mark Harris, who gained support among social conservatives in the district’s new rural areas and lost to the incumbent by a mere 134 votes. Harris tried again in 2018 and defeated Pittenger by a 49% to 46% margin, besting the congressman in Union, Anson, Scotland, and Bladen counties.

The 2018 Democratic primary saw Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and small business owner from the Charlotte area, win with over 80% of the district’s vote against activist Christian Cano. Cano had received the uncontested Democratic nomination in 2016 but lost by over sixteen points to Pittenger in the general election, carrying only Anson, Scotland, and Robeson counties. McCready’s overwhelming primary victory against an opponent with greater initial name recognition was notable, but even more profound was his receipt of over four thousand more primary votes than Pittenger and Harris combined.

McCready’s carefully-tailored image as a pragmatic moderate has won him a sizeable following among traditionally Republican voters in Mecklenburg and Union counties, as well as support among Blue Dog Democrats in rural areas who opted for Pittenger over Cano in 2016. Moderate voters – including Republican former NC Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr – have further been swayed into the McCready camp by Harris’s controversial statements from his time as a pastor, including sermons that called for women to “submit” to their husbands and questioned if having careers fulfilled “God’s plan for biblical womanhood.”

McCready has also developed a strong ground game across CD-09, although even that is overshadowed by his campaign’s primary asset – fundraising. McCready’s fundraising totals dwarf those of all other non-incumbents running for Congress in North Carolina this cycle, and he currently has more than six times as much cash on hand as Harris. Perhaps every factor in this race has played into Democrats’ hands and threatened Republican chances of maintaining their most vulnerable seat, giving McCready a slight but clear advantage come November.


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