Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another Look at NC CD's and the PV

One of the ways I think is interesting to look at both the Presidential race and the North Carolina Congressional delegation is how each of our members stacked up to their party's nominee within the district:

Congressman %

Congressman’s Pres. %


Mike McIntyre 69%

Barack Obama 47%


Heath Shuler 62%

Barack Obama 47%


Bob Etheridge 67%

Barack Obama 52%


G.K. Butterfield 70%

Barack Obama 62%


Sue Myrick 62%

John McCain 55%


Brad Miller 66%

Barack Obama 59%


Walter Jones 66%

John McCain 61%


Howard Coble 67%

John McCain 63%


Larry Kissell 55%

Barack Obama 53%


Mel Watt 72%

Barack Obama 70%


David Price 63%

Barack Obama 63%


Virginia Foxx 58%

John McCain 61%


Patrick McHenry 58%

John McCain 63%


This data speaks to several things:

-Other than Larry Kissell's victory over Robin Hayes, the strongest Congressional campaigns run by challengers last year were those of Daniel Johnson against Patrick McHenry, Roy Carter against Virginia Foxx, and BJ Lawson against David Price. The vast majority of the time a Congressman is so popular/entrenched that he/she will run well ahead of their party's nominees for other key offices within the district. The fact that Foxx and McHenry ran worse than McCain, and Price was just even with Obama is an indication that their opponents made a strong effort. The reality is that those districts are just too slanted to one party or the other to flip, which leads me to my next point...

-For the most part I would consider a potentially competitive Congressional district to be one where the Presidential contest is closer than ten points. For North Carolina that means the 7th district (McIntyre), 11th district (Shuler), 2nd district (Etheridge), 9th district (Myrick), and 8th district (Kissell.) I don't see the other eight Congressional districts as being remotely competitive under the current map. McIntyre and Etheridge have become so entrenched as to be unbeatable, but their districts would be competitive if they retired or ran for another office. Shuler's seems likely to reach that status quickly if he doesn't decide to run for higher office.

The sleeper here is Myrick's district. Democrats ran valiant campaigns for Congressional seats in the 5th and 10th districts, but those two are so Republican as to be nearly impossible. The 9th district is a long shot, but more potentially competitive than any other currently Republican held seat, particularly if Myrick were to retire. If Democrats want to make a run at picking up another seat, this is the place to recruit a strong challenger.

-The three districts where voters are most clearly picking the person rather than the party when it comes to their representative in Congress are McIntyre's 7th, Etheridge's 2nd, and Shuler's 11th. All three of those seats would be highly susceptible to party change if they came open, and that's why if North Carolina gets a 14th Congressional seat, legislative Democrats drawing up the new lines need to really consider whether they want to try to carve out a new Democratic district, or move some folks around to make this trio of districts more safely Democratic in an open seat situation.

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