HD-08: Candidates Fight Over Conservative Democrats

by | Aug 18, 2016 | 2016 Elections, Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features, NC House Races, NC Politics

House District 8: State Rep. Susan Martin (R) vs. Charlie Pat Farris (D)

The state’s Eighth House District consists of about half of Wilson County, connected by a tiny strip to about a third of Pitt County. It’s a largely rural and agricultural district. Currently, it’s represented by Susan Martin, a Republican first elected in 2012.

Martin was handily reelected in 2014 but this year Democrats hope to give her a run for her money. Their candidate this time around is Charlie Pat Farris, an attorney and longtime resident of Wilson. Farris has the kind of profile that can appeal to white, male, conservative Democrats – the kind of voter the party has been losing in droves for the past few years. This demographic will be decisive in determining the outcome of the election results here.

The Republican incumbent is not to be underestimated either. Susan Martin is considered to be a rising star in the party, and the fact that she’s a woman ought to be a plus, allowing her to appeal to female voters in her district. Martin says she stands for more choice in education, a freer economy, and for Christian values.


Given the huge Democratic edge in voter registration, there’s certainly an opportunity here for Team Blue. The question is, just how disenchanted are voters here with the Republican-led General Assembly? Unlike in more suburban districts, don’t expect backlash to HB 2 to drive up Democratic turnout. Rather, views on more conventional issues like education will be of importance here.

Given Martin’s monetary advantage and her apparent popularity along with the past election results, I’m giving the edge to the incumbent. But if there’s a blue wave – driven by a strong performance at the top of the ticket from Hillary Clinton – then this Blue Dog district could return to the welcoming arms of the Democratic Party.

Counties in district: Pitt (part), Wilson (part)

District Rating: Leans Republican

2014 Result
60.8% Martin (R)
39.2% Gregory (D)

Voter Registration
51.8% Democratic
30.2% Republican
18.0% Unaffiliated

68.5% White
28.9% Black
2.6% Other

Results in Other Elections
2012 President
54.7% Romney
44.6% Obama

2012 Governor
56.1% McCrory
42.6% Dalton

2010 Senate
56.0% Burr
42.4% Marshall

2008 Senate
49.3% Dole
49.0% Hagan


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