Live updates: North Carolina holds a special election

One GOP strategist involved with the special election race in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District appeared to manage expectations ahead of tonight’s results.

The district’s seat in the House of Representatives is currently vacant due to fraud in the 2018 midterm election. The district, which President Trump won handily in 2016, has been held by Republicans since 1963, setting up tonight’s election as a test of the momentum that carried Democrats to control the House in 2018.

All internal and public polling, the source said, shows the race will be extremely close, pointing to Hurricane Dorian and the fact that this was a “re-do” election. 

The source acknowledged that Democrat Dan McCready has been able to pick up Republican votes in the district, which stretches from suburban Charlotte to the military country of Fayetteville.

McCready, the source said, has nearly 100% name recognition with voters after running for two full years. A former Marine, McCready’s campaign slogan — “Country over party” — has resonated with some Republican voters. “He’s acceptable” to Republicans, the source said.

Some background: The fraud that upended last November’s results, according to the source, has been a turnoff to some Republican voters. There has been evidence of high propensity voters who lean Republican, the source said, voting for McCready due to concerns about the scandal that rocked the district.

There has also been evidence, the source said, that Republican Dan Bishop, who was an architect of the controversial House Bill 2, has been hurt by his involvement with the bathroom bill. It hasn’t had “much” impact, according to the source, but it has hurt Bishop with voters in the suburban Charlotte area, and in a race that could be determined by a small margin, “It matters.”

McCready also had a ground game advantage: He had a little over $1.5 million entering the general election when Bishop came out of his primary battle this spring, and has 24 field staffers across the district.

But the source downplayed what tonight’s results could mean for 2020.

“Could be bad, or could be just a unique situation,” the source said.

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