With the political world abuzz about a potential upset of massive proportions tomorrow in the Massachusetts Senate race it seems worth taking a look at the implications of what's going on there for North Carolina.
It looks increasingly likely that Republican Scott Brown will win in a state that voted 62-36 for Barack Obama. Out of North Carolina's 8 Democratic held Congressional seats only the ones held by G.K. Butterfield, David Price, and Mel Watt gave Obama that kind of support in 2008.
It's a given that Larry Kissell's seat will be strongly contested this fall but a Republican victory in Massachusetts will likely make the party see seats like Heath Shuler's, Mike McIntyre's, and Bob Etheridge's as more winnable than they've been in a long time.
If the GOP can win in Massachusetts that makes the prospects for winning in districts that split their Presidential votes pretty evenly look a lot better than they might have a year ago at this time. And that should help the fundraising efforts of Republican candidates in these North Carolina districts. We've only had one or two hotly contested House races in the state per election cycle most of the last decade but that has the potential to change in this political climate.
Of course there's a lot of reasons these races are different than Massachusetts. All of North Carolina's Democratic members of Congress have a track record of running strong campaigns and winning in their districts, a contrast to Martha Coakley. A Republican win in Massachusetts should also help Democratic incumbents in North Carolina and across the country to realize that nothing can be taken for granted this year- complacency bears a lot of the guilt for getting Democrats in their current situation in Massachusetts. And finally it's unlikely national Republican money would flow into any of the North Carolina Congressional races in the way that's happened in Massachusetts.
Nevertheless a Republican win tomorrow will have a significant effect on the conventional wisdom about where the party can and can't win, and that could lead to spirited races in several North Carolina districts that have seen mostly lopsided results in recent years.