North Carolina’s May Madness Single-Elimination Political Primary Championship Begins April 24 March 26, 2014 Vol. VII, No. 7 12:13 pm March Madness NCAA basketball games and political campaigns in North Carolina are much alike. First, they are single elimination contests. Lose once and you are out. Second, the top seeds almost always win the
North Carolina’s May Madness Single-Elimination Political Primary Championship Begins April 24
March 26, 2014 Vol. VII, No. 7 12:13 pm
March Madness NCAA basketball games and political campaigns in North Carolina are much alike. First, they are single elimination contests. Lose once and you are out. Second, the top seeds almost always win the final game. Sure, there are always a few Cinderella stories like last week’s “#14 Mercer Upsets #3 Duke,” or, “#6 NC State wins 1983 National Championship,” but the odds still favor the top seeds. Third, the madness. The madness of political attack TV ads.
North Carolina’s May Madness single elimination political primary championship begins on April 24, 2014, the opening day for One-Stop voting. It ends on May 6, 2014, Primary Election Day. And, as with the NCAA Division I tournament, everyone thinks they’re going to win.
There are 170 N.C. General Assembly seats up for grabs in 2014, 13 U.S. Congressional seats, 1 U.S. Senate seat, 4 N.C. Supreme Court seats and 3 seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals.
So, for those of you who are filling out your May Madness political primary championship bracket, and thinking about the November playoff races, here are a few pointers.
New Jersey and Virginia Signal Good Year for Incumbents
Virginia and New Jersey were the only two states in 2013 with gubernatorial and legislative elections. The political trends in those two states are almost always reliable predictors for North Carolina a year later. Here are the predictive trends from those states for North Carolina in 2014:
(1) Partisan power in the state legislature will stay as is; (2) Almost all incumbents will win their races; (3) Outside independent expenditures will favor the party in power; (4) Non-presidential year low turnout can be expected; (5) Conservative hard-liners out of favor in state-wide races.
As to legislative races, here are the key trends from New Jersey:
- In New Jersey, no Senate seats changed hands; only 1 Assembly member lost
- The party in power maintained control (24-16 Democratic Senate; 48-32 Democratic Assembly) despite Republican Gov. Christie’s 61.2% landslide victory
- A record-high $72 million was spent on legislative races in 2013, with about $20 million of that spent by outside independent expenditure groups
As to legislative races, here are the key trends from Virginia:
- In the 100-member Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans went from a 67-33 majority to a 68-32 majority (No Senate races in 2013; split 20-20 w/Dem Lt. Gov)
- Only two legislative incumbents lost in Virginia in 2013
- Only 14 of the 100 House of Delegates seats were won with a spread of less than 10%; only 8 under 4%. Arguably, only 8 of 100 races were competitive
Congressional and Legislative Races Will Not be Closes
Based on trends from 2013 and early indicators of likely advantages, like incumbency, fundraising and non-presidential election year turnout, here are a few big-picture forecasts for North Carolina:
- Because legislative and congressional districts are drawn so clearly in the favor of one party, almost all of those races will be over in May … and will not be close
- All congressional incumbents seeking another term will win their primary races and the general election by 10% or more, including Renee Ellmers, R-Harnett, 2nd Congressional District and Walter Jones, R-Pitt, 3rd Congressional District
- David Rouzer, R-Johnston County, will win the GOP primary in the 7th Congressional District by around 10% over Woody White, R-New Hanover
- Republicans will maintain their super majorities in the NC Senate and House
Tillis Likely GOP U.S. Senate Nominee with No Runoff
As to statewide races in New Jersey and Virginia, the overarching trend was the demand for leaders who placed a higher premium on getting things done over those who thought sticking to their beliefs was more important even if nothing gets done. In North Carolina’s U.S. Senate GOP primary race, that trend favors the election of Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, outright on May 6.
During his four years as NC House Speaker, Tillis lead dozens of successful legislative battles for conservative solutions to problems. Republicans will honor his accomplishments on May 6.
Two opponents seen early on as a threat, Greg Brannon, R-Wake, and Mark Harris, R-Mecklenburg, have fizzled out. Both are having trouble raising money, and Brannon has tripped himself up with legal problems. Tillis will win the primary handily, and is favored to win this fall.
Let the May Madness begin!
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John N. Davis, Editor