“Though the Scorner May Sneer at and Witlings Defame Her”: The North Carolina Special Elections

Nathaniel Rakich, fivethirtyeight.com, Republicans Won Both Elections in North Carolina—But It’s Not All Bad News for Democrats

E.J. Dione, North Carolina’s election results provide a thought experiment for 2020

The Election Results

The heavily rural Third Congressional District normally leans Republican by 24 percent, and that was exactly the percentage by which the Republican candidate won. (And, BTW, this result is consistent with what happened in the May 21 special election in Pennsylvania’s Thirty-fifth District—overall partisan Republican lean by 35 percent, and the Republican won back in May by 36 points.)

In the Ninth Congressional District, Trump’s election eve rally seems to have goosed up rural turnout, which exceeded that of prior elections, and led to a Republican victory by two percentage points in a district that leans Republican by 14 and that gave Trump a 12 point victory in 2016.

But, in contrast to the very Trump-friendly rural voters, rich white suburban voters, who used to vote Republican, turned out in even greater numbers for the Democratic candidate, as compared with the last election.

A Thought About North Carolina Republicans

They do seem to be a special breed of cat. I call to mind, once again, the Very Reverend Mark Harris and his effort to steal the election in the Ninth District the last go-around. And the fact that the Republicans in the legislature tricked the Democrats into going to a Nine Eleven memorial service, so the Republicans could win a key vote they would otherwise lose.

Do rural folk in North Carolina think the same as rural folk in Michigan or Iowa? And, as the China trade war hits them in the gut, will their enthusiasm for Dear Leader continue unabated?

We do not know the answers to these questions. But what we do know is that Trump is successfully goosing up the rural yokels at the cost of royally pissing off the rich suburbanites. In the process he is destroying the coalition that has undergirded the Republican Party.

Trump, of course, does not give a tinker’s damn about destroying the Republican Party. He cares about frightening the pee out of the rural voters so that they, in turn, will frighten the pee out of the rest of us.

Let me bring this to a close with

Some Thoughts from E.J. Dione

We have learned from North Carolina and the new polls that: (1) divisions between rural and metropolitan voters are deepening; (2) Republicans will have great trouble winning any suburban-dominated district, which will make it very hard to win back the House; (3) the vast majority of incumbent House Republicans represent very pro-Trump seats and have no political interest in breaking with him; (4) life will stay complicated for vulnerable Republican senators up for reelection in swing states because they need turnout from voters turned on by Trump but also suburban crossover voters turned off by Trump; (5) division, distraction and fear will always be Trump’s play; and (6) a large majorityof the American electorate would like to throw Trump out of the White House, but Democrats will have to make it easy for them to do so. There will be no miraculous solution to the Trump problem.…

Especially in the district’s rural areas, Trump’s campaigning the day before the election almost certainly had an impact on boosting GOP base turnout. And Trump gave a preview of 2020 with incendiary fearmongering, accusing McCready of favoring the release of “thousands of dangerous criminal aliens into your communities” who were guilty of “sexual assault, robbery, drug crimes, kidnapping and homicide.” And the Democrats, in Trump’s rendition, became “the socialist Democrat Party.”

Trump knows he can’t win by offering a sunny rendition of his time in office. He has to turn his opponents into ghouls. The polls make clear he will lose if 2020 is a referendum on him. He can win only if he makes it a referendum on the Democrats. Their job is to make that as difficult as possible.