North Carolina 9: McCready Has Narrow Lead in New Bipartisan Poll

August 30, 2019 · 2:31 PM EDT

By Nathan L. Gonzales and Leah Askarinam

Democrat Dan McCready has a narrow advantage over Republican Dan Bishop heading into the final days of the Sept. 10 redo election in North Carolina’s 9th District, according to a new bipartisan poll for Inside Elections. 

The survey, conducted Aug. 26-28 by Harper Polling and Clarity Campaign Labs, showed McCready with a 46-42 percent advantage over Bishop, and two third party candidates receiving a combined 3 percent. When leaners are included, McCready’s advantage extended to 49-44 percent.

In Nov. 2018, McCready finished behind Republican Mark Harris 49.3-48.9 percent, but a winner was never certified or seated in Congress because of allegations of fraud by a GOP consultant affiliated with the Harris campaign. 

President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has also deteriorated since the fall. According to the new poll, 47 percent approved of the job he’s doing compared to 48 percent who disapproved. In the final Siena poll for The New York Times last cycle, conducted Oct. 26-30, Trump's job rating in the district was 52 percent approve/41 percent disapprove. And Trump carried the district 54-43 percent in 2016. 

Because Republicans are trying to elevate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the new face of the Democratic party in order to rally Republicans, the poll tested her standing in the district. She had a 20 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable rating. In comparison, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a 32 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable rating, and Vice President Joe Biden was 40 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable.

The poll is the result of a collaboration for Inside Elections between a Republican polling firm, Harper Polling, and a Democratic polling firm, Clarity Campaign Labs. Field work was divided between the two firms and survey design and methodological decisions were made jointly. The sample size for the survey is 551 likely special election voters and the margin of error is +/-4.19 percent. Responses were gathered via mobile telephone interviews conducted by live callers at a professional call center and landline interviews conducted using Interactive Voice Response.

There’s still more than a week of television ads and campaigning to play out before the final votes are cast. And with Bishop and McCready polling so close to each other and the uncertainty of special election turnout, neither candidate has the clear advantage.  With that in mind, we’re maintaining our Toss-up rating of the race. 

Special election results are not always predictors of upcoming general elections, but a McCready win would still be significant, upping the number of seats Republicans need to gain to win the House majority to 20. A Bishop victory would leave the net gain target at 19 seats. 

If McCready wins, Republicans will point out that he isn’t easily tied to Washington and does not have votes in Congress to defend, unlike the dozens of targeted Democratic freshmen. And McCready enjoyed a larger financial advantage than most vulnerable incumbents will have in 2020.

Democrats, on the other hand, will point out that Republicans spent $4.5 million in party money in an effort to keep a seat that President Trump carried by more than 10 points — even if McCready narrowly loses. 

Here's the polling memo and toplines