Rod Stewart’s 1971 hit Every Picture Tells a Story from the album of the same name is going thought my head as I ponder the initial results of Tuesday night’s special congressional elections in North Carolina. I need more data to make firm conclusions but I still think a message that I fear may be lost on Democrats was conveyed. Let’s explore.
Let me begin by reaffirming my basic philosophy that it is unwise to read too much into any special election. They are called special elections because they are unusual and isolated. One of the few things I took from my college statistic courses was the value of sample size. Too small of a sample and the statistical significance is either questionable or non-existent. The contest in NC-9 was a $20 million race. The chances of a regular election in that same district having as much money behind it is almost non-existent. When you are essentially the only show in town you get tons of national media coverage and special interest money. Normally NC-9 would be all but ignored by the national media. That being said, while it is possible there is no lesson to be gleaned from Tuesday’s results; there is certainly cause for pause.
To do the “housekeeping” there were two special elections; one in NC-3, the other in NC-9. NC-3 is the late Walter Jones’ district where a Democrat simply can’t win in the early 21st century. Therefore I am only looking at NC-9. That district is gerrymandered to favor a Republic but a Democrat still has a better chance than a snowball’s in Hell. Trump won it in 2016 by 12 percentage points. The last time the district elected a Democrat to the House was in 1960. In other words it is normally a pretty safe Republican seat. The original 2018 election was a narrow win (less than 1,000 votes) for the Republican until so much voter fraud on the Republican’s behalf was uncovered that the State Board of Elections unanimously refused to certify the results. Based on incomplete results Tuesday night Republican Dan Bishop beat Democrat Dan McCready by a bit over 2,000 votes.
President Trump was quick to claim credit for Bishop’s win. Trump made a personal appearance on Bishop’s behalf the night before the election and it appears that Bishop over performed in the same day vote (North Carolina allows early voting). Can the turnout be attributed to Trump? I think to a significant degree it can. The urban/rural, educated/less well-educated divide appears to have been a huge factor in this race. Trump rallies appeal to rural, less well-educated voters (a/k/a Bubba).
Therein lies my point. The well-read, intelligent voter looks at Trump as a buffoon and wonders how anyone could possibly vote for him or support him. Bubba loves Trump. Trump’s entire legitimate 2020 strategy is based on getting Bubba to turnout. We need more data, but preliminarily it looks like he did in one Congressional district in a purple state on Tuesday night because Trump came to his backyard, told 22 documented lies and asked him to go vote for Dan Bishop.
Every picture tells a story and so does every special election. Some stories are more important than others. The old coach in me is coming out today. I never patted myself or my players on the back for the good things we did; and McCready and company did a lot of them. I looked at what beat me, because a close, expectations exceeding loss is still just a loss.
Here is the price to the American people. Bishop is most famous for being one of the main architects of the bathroom bill which made North Carolina the laughingstock of the nation and cost its economy billions. So now we have a Trump sycophant idiot in the House of Representatives. Most close elections turn on turnout. The final numbers aren’t in but I bet that is what happened here. Trump may be all sorts of bad things but Bubba still follows him. Remember Nixon had about 25% support on the day he left office. Let that be a lesson when that couch looks good in 2020!
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