Harper Polling conducted a statewide North Carolina survey (8/1-4; 500 NC likely voters) for the North Carolina-based Civitas Institute, individually pairing Gov. Roy Cooper (D) with three potential Republican opponents for next year’s gubernatorial election. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R), who is an announced gubernatorial candidate and commonly viewed as the leading Republican, would trail Gov. Cooper 48-36% in the general election ballot test. State Rep. Holly Grange (R-Wilmington) fares worse against Mr. Cooper, behind 48-30%. Finally, former Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who lost his re-election bid to Mr. Cooper in 2016 and is not a candidate in 2020, would trail 47-38%.
While Gov. Cooper fails to reach 50% support under any scenario, he’s close, and the consistency of his standing suggests that he is in strong position for re-election. At this early point in the election cycle, the Governor must be considered a clear favorite to win a second term next year.
Businessman Garland Tucker, who is challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the North Carolina Republican primary, released an internal campaign poll that shows a closing race. According to a Diversified Research survey taken earlier this month and now publicly released (7/8-9; 500 NC likely Republican primary voters), Sen. Tillis would maintain only a 40-30% lead over Mr. Tucker.
The Tucker campaign also reported that the survey found Sen. Tillis’ favorability index to only be 52:30% positive to negative among the tested Republican primary voters. Like three other states that have scheduled their primaries for March 3rd, North Carolina will also choose their full slate of nominees. So, this Senate primary challenge will have a rather short nomination cycle.
As has been expected for weeks, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest announced that he will challenge Gov. Roy Cooper (D) next year. With no major announced opponent to Forest for the nomination, it is possible that next year’s general election pairing is all but set.
North Carolina will again be a hotbed of political activity. It will be a tight battleground state in the presidential contest, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) will also be in a close battle for re-election, and early polling suggests that the Governor’s race between the two aforementioned candidates will become highly competitive.
Greenville area state Representative Greg Murphy scored a 60-40% victory over physician Joan Perry last night in North Carolina’s 3rd District Republican run-off election. Mr. Murphy now advances to the September 10th special general election where he will face Democratic former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas. Mr. Thomas won his party’s nomination outright in the April 30th primary.
The 3rd District is vacant due to the February passing of veteran US Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. (R-Farmville). The seat encompasses most of the North Carolina coastal area beginning at the Virginia border and moving south to North Topsail Beach and through the Outer Banks. NC-3 is reliably Republican; hence, Mr. Murphy becomes the favorite in the two-month special general election campaign.
Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham’s status as Sen. Thom Tillis’ (R) top Democratic challenger was further strengthened yesterday. Ex-state Sen. Eric Mansfield (D) formally ended his Senatorial campaign and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller (D) reported only having $1,000 cash-on-hand in his campaign account.
As we covered last week, the US Supreme Court released their rulings on the Maryland and North Carolina partisan gerrymandering cases and whether asking about a person’s citizenship status can be placed on the 2020 census questionnaire.
On the redistricting question, the high court definitively ruled that the partisan gerrymandering question will not be adjudicated by the federal court system. Looking practically at the live cases the SCOTUS’ action affects, the redistricting battles in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are essentially dead and their current congressional district boundaries will remain in place through the last election of this decade, in 2020.
With Democrats controlling the North Carolina state Supreme Court, it may be possible that the Tarheel State lines are redrawn because of partisan gerrymandering but whether a new case can get to them in time to affect 2020 remains questionable. Unlike the US Supreme Court, the North Carolina high panel does not have the authority to bring a case up before the lower courts rule.
The citizenship question is a bit more convoluted. The court ruled that the government has the right to add this question to the census, but they are sending this particular case back to the Department of Commerce because of potential motivational evidence relating to placing the citizenship query on the questionnaire.
Turning to the census ruling, though the SCOTUS made clear the government does have the right to ask the question, the result of returning it to the Commerce Department likely means the citizenship question will not be on the census questionnaire. Though the Trump Administration may try to stretch the calendar, it is probable that Commerce will not be able to comply with the high court’s directive before the 2020 census must be fielded.
The Supreme Court issued the rulings on the Maryland and North Carolina redistricting cases, which dictates that partisan gerrymandering is not an issue for the federal courts. The high court ruling stated that the legislatures and Governors, for the most part, have sole authority to draw the district boundaries.
In a blow to the Administration, and most likely the Republicans, the court also returned to the federal district court the census citizenship case. The majority opted to send the case for further investigation to determine the motive behind the Commerce Department decision to include the citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire. The court did affirm the government’s authority to add such a question to the census main document but will allow the lower court to determine if the reason to do so was tainted.
For the second time in two days, President Trump issued an early primary endorsement, and this time for North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R). The first-term Senator has primary opposition from wealthy venture capitalist Garland Tucker who has been attacking Tillis as not being strongly pro-Trump. Therefore, the President’s public support should go a long way toward helping Sen. Tillis win re-nomination before he faces what should be a competitive general election.
The Supreme Court has been considering two major redistricting cases and another that pertains to whether the government can include the citizenship question on the 2020 census. Since tomorrow has been announced as the last day of the current session, all three of these rulings will be released this morning.
The North Carolina and Maryland cases could result in those states having to redraw their congressional boundaries, which could set the parameters for other states doing the same.
It’s no surprise that the Public Policy Polling data released late last week confirms other surveys that depict North Carolina as hosting a close 2020 Senate race. The results are perfectly consistent with the state’s voting history. The poll (6/17-18; 610 NC registered voters) finds Sen. Thom Tillis (R) trailing newly-announced Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham, a former state Senator and statewide candidate, 40-41%. But, as we pointed out last week in covering the release about the Governor’s data, this poll appears to contain a slight Democratic skew within the polling sample.
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