So far, polls and early voting suggests that the September 10 congressional elections are going about as expected, with the 9th District race being another close one and the 3rd District race being a comparative lopsided affair.
Murphy appears to be cruising to a win in the 3rd
Republican Walter Jones had served the 3rd District for over two decades, easily winning most of his general elections. So, observers had long believed that whoever won the Republican nomination in that conservative-leaning district would have an advantage in the special election to replace Jones, who died last February.
The evidence so far does nothing to change that assessment. A poll commissioned by the Republican group RRH Elections found Republican Greg Murphy leading Democrat Allen Thomas 51-40. Libertarian Tim Harris (L) had two percent and Constitution Party candidate Greg Holt had one percent with six percent undecided.
Mail and early voting turnout tell a similar story. While Democrats tend to outvote Republicans in early voting, a look at the 3rd District on VoteTracker finds that Republicans have outvoted Democrats so far in the 3rd. The Republican vote share so far is 37.73 percent, higher than the 33.17 Republican early vote share in the 2018 election that Jones easily won. All signs indicate that Murphy will win easily.
McCready appears to have a slight advantage in the 9th
While the 3rd District race appears to be all-but-over, the 9th District appears to be as tight as it was last year. Polling over the summer has continuously shown the race to be very tight. One of the more recent polls, by the Republican firm Harper Polling (which also does polling for Civitas) and the Democratic firm Clarity Campaign Labs, has McCready up by 4 percent. That matches the largest lead either candidate has had during the campaign. That poll also found an enthusiasm gap, with McCready leading among people who are “very excited” to vote 51-46 while Bishop leads among those who are “somewhat excited” to vote 45-39%. Other polling also shows a tight race. (UPDATE: The most recent available poll, by RRH Elections, has Bishop winning 46-45 percent, although some of their cross tabs look suspect.)
The enthusiasm gap found in the Harper-Clarity poll is reflected in the turnout so far in the 9th District. Votetracker finds that Democrats account for 40.86 percent of mail and one-stop early voting so far this election. That outpaces the Democratic share of the vote at a similar point in the 2018 election. Democrats accounted for 38.65 percent of all mail and early one-stop votes in 2018.
The question is whether the enthusiasm gap will result in more votes for McCready or just earlier votes for McCready. There are two other unknowns that could affect the election. The first is Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to visit North Carolina Wednesday and Thursday, which could affect the last few days of early voting. The other is a rally President Trump has scheduled in Fayetteville for the evening before the election, which may help encourage more Republican voters to come out on election day.