A Civitas poll earlier this week opened eyes because Democrat Dan McCready leads Republican Mark Harris in the open seat in a GOP +7 district. The more significant number, though, is Donald Trump’s favorability. He’s upside down with 43% approving, 49% disapproving. Harris ran a primary wrapping himself around the president and if Trump is in trouble in a district like this one, he’s in trouble across the state. Or at least Republicans on the ballot are.
According to the poll, McCready is crushing Harris in urban areas by 22 points and suburban areas by 13. Harris leads in rural areas by 10 but the district is more than 60% urban suburban. McCready holds a 16 point lead among women, which could reflect the impact of the #MeToo movement. Civitas Executive Director Donald Bryson suggested the lead may be influenced by an article in the paper highlighting Harris’ opinion of the role of women in society. If a single article had that type of influence, the attacks on Harris from the DCCC and affiliated organizations will be brutal, widening that lead substantially.
But maybe the attacks won’t come because they won’t need them. If McCready’s lead continues to increase and his significant financial advantage grows, Republicans might write that district off in a year when they have a lot of incumbents to protect. Harris will likely need to show a big haul in the second quarter to hold the attention of the national GOP players.
Trump’s numbers, though, show the difficulty Republicans face this cycle. In North Carolina, with no US Senate or governor’s race on the ballot, Trump is the de facto top of the ticket. He’s underwater in the district he won by double digits two years ago. The GOP won’t be able to get away from him no matter how hard they try. He’ll be a drag on the ticket up and down the ballot.
Among women, Trump is down 12 points, indicating that #MeToo may be negatively affecting the GOP. Among urban voters, Trump suffers a gaping 25 point deficit. And these urbanites include a lot of country club Republicans. Among registered unaffiliated voters, Trump is down by 13 points with a majority disapproving of him.
Dan McCready has a widening lead over Mark Harris. Before 2010, North Carolina routinely rejected hard right candidates like Mark Harris. Gerrymandering protected them, but the election of Donald Trump may be shifting voters back to their more moderate roots. The poll, though, may have broader implications across the state as unaffiliated voters reject Trump and country club Republicans, especially women, join them.