CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It was a hotly fought race and one that gained national attention. In a District 9 re-do, Republican Dan Bishop bested his Democrat challenger Dan McCready to win the seat.
On Wednesday, well-known political scientist Dr. Michael Bitzer at Catawba College in Salisbury, weighed in on this contest, and what it could mean for the presidential election next year in 2020.
“There were some surprises in the district that I don’t think anybody was expecting," Dr. Bitzer said.
At the end of the night, Dan Bishop emerged as the winner, due largely to dominance in the rural counties of District 9. McCready lost Tuesday’s election to Republican Bishop by about 4,000 votes.
What about those surprises Dr. Bitzer mentioned?
“Dan McCready in Mecklenburg County overperformed what he did in 2018, so that to me continues the narrative that south Charlotte, the classic Republican wedge, that has collapsed," Bitzer noted.
Bitzer said Bishop’s strategy to keep Mecklenburg competitive, allowed him to focus his campaign more on the eastern part of district 9.
“Cumberland County, a significant shift from last year," Bitzer said, "and then Robeson County, particularly with the Lumbee Indian tribes, that was really the surprise of the evening.”
In Robeson County, McCready won by just over 200 votes, 10,518 to 10,285, with all 39 precincts reporting. In 2018, McCready won by a margin of 56% to 41%, or more than 4500 votes over Republican Mark Harris.
President Trump and Vice-President Pence made stops in district 9 for Bishop. “Dan Bishop was down 17 points 3 weeks ago. He then asked me for help, we changed his strategy together, and he ran a great race,” Trump tweeted.
Did they see this race as a barometer for 2020?
“Donald Trump won NC by 4 points statewide, but he won the NC 9th district by 12 points, now if Dan Bishop wins it by only 2, the question is does the president’s performance in 2020 mirror that in the district, and by extension, in the state." Bitzer said. “NC is going to be competitive, it is a very purple state statewide, but these congressional district races may send some signal that perhaps the president needs to reinforce his base operation here in the state to keep NC in his column.”
The 9th district has been Republican-held since 1963. Had it gone Democratic, Bitzer said it would have been a huge wake call to Republicans.
More detailed analysis from Dr. Bitzer can be seen here: oldnorthstatepolitics.com