The DCCC has released their first poll in the new race for NC-09. Democrat Dan McCready starts in a strong position to run in the special election. Republicans, in contrast, are being held accountable for the fraud that occurred in the district.
The poll tests McCready against a generic Republican since we don’t who the nominee will be. He starts with a four point margin, 50-46. Significantly, he’s right at a majority. Given the high profile of the race in 2018, he has high name recognition and the negatives thrown at him haven’t stuck. He’s also net positive by 13 points with 45% of voters having a favorable view of him to 32% unfavorable. That’s a strong place to begin knowing his opponents will have to go through a bruising primary and then a quick general election likely to follow.
On the flip side, Republicans are getting the blame for the fraud that resulted in the State Board of Elections calling for a new election. Two-thirds of the voters say they’ve heard a lot about the fraud and more than 60% blame Republican Mark Harris, his consultant, or the GOP for the fraud. That’s not a good place to start.
The fraud allegations will likely hang heavy over the special election. McCrae Dowless, the Harris consultant alleged to have orchestrated the scheme, was indicted this week and Wake County DA Loren Freeman suggested more indictments are coming. None of those charges will center around McCready.
The GOP has also botched their response to the scandal. They defended Harris all the way up until he had to call for a new election while under questioning at the State Board of Elections hearing. After the Board unanimously voted to call for new election, GOP Chairman Robin Hayes and Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse implied that the election was being stolen from Harris. Maybe that will excite the base but it will also damage their credibility if more people associated with Harris or the GOP are indicted in the midst of the special election.
Dan McCready starts the special election in a strong position. He’s already raised a lot of money and will likely avoid any serious primary challenge. Republicans will likely have a very contested primary that leaves the nominee broke heading into the general election. Special elections are usually low-turnout affairs and in a closely contested race, the side with the most motivated voters usually wins. In NC-09, Democrats will be highly motivated to vote while Republicans may be watching the top echelon of their party made out to be complicit in a criminal enterprise. That’s not very motivating.