State Politics

NC Democrats ‘extremely motivated’ – can enthusiasm push them to victory?

In Winterville, N.C., a Town Council race was decided by one vote. Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway issued an order deciding that Ricky Hines won the Town Council race in November and the Pitt County Elections Board overstepped its authority when ordering a new election after certifying the results.
In Winterville, N.C., a Town Council race was decided by one vote. Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway issued an order deciding that Ricky Hines won the Town Council race in November and the Pitt County Elections Board overstepped its authority when ordering a new election after certifying the results. cseward@newsobserver.com

Democrats are far more enthusiastic about voting in North Carolina state legislative races this year than Republicans, according to a new poll Democrats are touting.

The results suggest that the same wave that swept Alabama Democrat Doug Jones into the U.S. Senate and led to unexpected Democratic victories in the Virginia legislature will lift North Carolina legislative candidates, said Fred Yang, a partner with the national Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates.

“There is a tremendous enthusiasm advantage for Democrats,” Yang said in a conference call with journalists.

Dallas Woodhouse, state GOP executive director, said the party knows the midterm elections will be difficult, but that Yang is making too much of an enthusiasm gap. The president’s party usually loses seats in the midterms following the national election.

“What helps us is that I don’t believe they have enough voters overall, and they don’t have enough voters in the right areas,” he said. It won’t help Democrats if all their highly motivated voters are in districts that are going to elect a Democrat anyway, he said.

Unlike in those Alabama and Virginia elections, North Carolina will not have a statewide race for governor or senator leading the ticket.

Real Facts NC, a left-leaning nonprofit, was one of the groups that commissioned the poll and coordinated release of the results.

Among the findings was that 67 percent of registered Democrats said they were “extremely motivated” to vote in the 2018 legislative elections, while the same held true for 51 percent of registered Republicans.

Hart Research Associates polled 602 likely North Carolina voters from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

Real Facts NC did not release the poll questions or details on who responded.

State Democrats are preparing for a big year as they try to break the veto-proof Republican majority in the legislature in 2018 and win the majority in 2020. The state Democratic Party coordinated the release of nine candidate announcements in December, and Democrats are regularly announcing their intentions to run.

It’s unclear what legislative district boundaries will look like in November. Most legislative districts were drawn to elect Republicans and help the GOP maintain its majority. A three-judge panel hired an expert to redraw some districts the Republican-led legislature approved last August.

That’s separate from a potential redraw of U.S. congressional districts. On Tuesday, another three-judge panel struck down congressional districts the legislature approved in 2016.

The candidate filing period opens Feb. 12 and ends Feb. 28.

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner

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