Poll: North Carolina Special Election a Dead Heat with One Week to Go

The Associated Press
Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer via AP/ Chuck Burton

A poll released by RRH Elections on Tuesday shows the special election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District is a statistical dead heat between Republican Dan Bishop and Democrat Dan McCready with one week to go until voters cast their ballots on September 10.

The poll of 500 likely voters, conducted between August 26 and and August 28, shows the GOP’s Bishop with a one point lead over McCready, 46 percent to 45 percent. The margin is well within the poll’s four point margin of error, making the race a statistical tie.

The RRH Elections Poll is the third poll of the race to be publicly released since May, when JMC Analytics showed Bishop leading McCready by four points, 46 percent to 42 percent, which was within that poll’s 5.2 percent margin of error.

On Friday, Harper Polling/Clarity Campaign Labs released the results of a poll it conducted between August 26 and August 28 that showed Democrat McCready leading Bishop by four points, 46 percent to 42 percent, which was within that poll’s 4.2 percent margin of error.

Breitbart News noted that that Harper Polling/Clarity Campaign Labs poll appeared to over-sample Democrats. Forty-two percent of poll respondents were registered Democrats, while only 32 percent were registered Republicans. That ten point weighting towards Democrats was significantly different than the district’s Cook Report Partisan Voting Index, which is Republican plus 8.

“The rerun election in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district, stretching from Charlotte through its southeastern suburbs and to the rural sandhills in the south-central part of the state, has been closely-watched nationally, and our new RRH Elections poll shows that the focus on the race is justified,” RRH said in its statement accompanying the release of the poll:

The key divide here is on partisanship and support of Trump, as Bishop gets an overwhelming share of those who approve of the President while McCready takes a similarly overwhelming share of those who disapprove. Aside from that cleavage, the race is highly notable for how similarly Bishop and McCready are performing in this survey across a wide variety of demographic groups. Bishop seems to take an implausibly high share of the votes of Black voters, a result that is likely due to sampling error in the small sample size for that demographic subgroup.

Bishop and McCready keep the race close across the entire district, with no particularly strong divide between the urban and suburban western part of the seat and the more rural east. They also keep the race close among both men and women. Looking ahead to the 2020 races, President Trump leads Joe Biden by a modest 6-point margin in the district, less than the margin he won by three years ago in this seat. In the gubernatorial race, Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Cooper are essentially tied in this district, with Forest edging ahead by a single point.

As this seat is to the right of the state, these results could be a hopeful sign for Democrats looking to carry the statewide races in North Carolina in 2020. For next week’s special rerun election race, however, much will depend on which side is more effective at getting its voters to turn out, and this race remains likely to be decided by a very small margin.

RRH Elections is unusual as a polling firm in that “it is a group of volunteer hobbyist bloggers that has no connection to any candidate or organization active in this race.”

Notably,  the RRH Elections Poll of the special election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District “was entirely crowd-funded by donations from the readers of our blog.”

Of the 47 percent of poll respondents who approve of President Trump’s job performance, 90 percent support Republican Dan Bishop.

Of the 45 percent of poll respondents who disapprove of President Trump’s job performance, 89 percent support Democrat Dan McCready.

President Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the largest city in the more rural and conservative eastern part of the district, next Monday on the eve of the election.


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