The Republican primary in the new 9th Congressional District race is looking less and less like strictly an affair for Republicans and folks who tend to vote Republican.
The State Board of Elections has decided that GS 163A-1181(c), which states that “no person who voted in the initial primary of one party shall vote in the new election in the primary of another party” does not apply to this election. That means unaffiliated voters who voted in the 9th District Democratic primary last year will be eligible to vote in the Republican primary for the new election the NCSBE ordered. That news greatly excited Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed (D-Mecklenburg):
I doubt that Sen. Mohammed was excited because he would like to see unaffiliated voters who supported to one of the Democratic candidates in 2018 suddenly become attracted to one of the Republican candidates this time around. As he almost certainly knows, most independents tend to behave like political partisans and at least some of those “crossover voters” will vote in the Republican primary with a goal either weakening the eventual Republican nominee or helping get the weakest possible Republican nominated in order to help Dan McCready, who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination
In addition, a look at changes in voter registration numbers over the past four weeks finds that there has been a small but noticeable shift towards registration that allows for voting in the 9th District Republican primary. In the five counties located wholly in the 9th District (Anson, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland, and Union), the increase in the number of registered Democrats is consistent with the state average of 0.14 percent. However, the number of registered Republicans in those counties increased by 0.72 percent compared to 0.29 percent statewide and unaffiliated voters (who can vote in the Republican primary) increased by 1.15 percent in those counties compared to 0.6 percent statewide. While those registrations only increase the number of people eligible to vote in the Republican primary in those counties by 1,541, by now we are all aware of how important a few hundred votes can be.
Two factors that usually limit the impact of crossover voting may not apply in the 9th District race. First, although crossover voting rarely happens in large numbers, the lower turnout associated with off-year elections increases the chance that such crossover voting could have an impact on the Republican nomination.
Second, while it is difficult for such “party crashers” to coordinate their votes in a crowded primary field, the entry of former Democrat Chris Anglin of Wake County into the race could cause those crossover voters to unite behind him. For their part, Republican officials, mindful of Anglin’s alleged role as a “Democratic plant” to split the Republican vote in the 2018 NC Supreme Court race and of the potential harm he could cause the party this time around, have refused to provide any support to his campaign. However, if the same Democratic donors who bankrolled his NC Supreme Court race last year back his congressional campaign, he could remain a threat.
The last thing voters in the 9th District want is more chaos. It looks like that might be exactly what they will be getting.