In North Carolina, Michael just changed the conversation from Kavanaugh to hurricanes. Between Florence in the east and Michael in the Piedmont, I suspect a majority of North Carolinians have now been impacted directly by a hurricane in the past month. The contentious hearings will be little more than distant memory to most North Carolina voters.
It’s hard to tell how these hurricanes will affect the elections. In eastern North Carolina where lots of people have been displaced, turnout might be down. That happened in parts of the Southeast in the wake of Matthew in 2016. In the Piedmont, most people have only lost power or trees. They will likely show up to vote.
The Survey USA poll from earlier this week showed Governor Roy Cooper got great marks for his handling of Florence. His popularity might help Democrats slightly since Trump’s numbers are still underwater.
This election is still about turnout, though, more than anything. If the overall turnout gets above the mid-forties, Democrats will have good year. If it gets above fifty, they could have a great year.
North Carolina has nothing to drive people to the polls. Republicans hope the amendments will give their base a reason to vote. I doubt they’ll have much impact. The national conversation has been dominated by Donald Trump. Even if the hurricane cleanup is faster than expected, the conversation will not go back to Kavanaugh. His bump will fade away.
I suspect North Carolina turnout will be closer to what Blue Moon elections have looked like in the past. Democratic enthusiasm that’s been present since the Women’s March dwarfed Trump’s inauguration attendance will continue through election day. The question is how many Trump supporters who aren’t off-year voters show up. Democrats go into the final weeks of the election with an edge. How big depends on the size of the Democratic turnout operation and the number of Trumpers who make the trek to the polls.