The first primary of the 2020 election cycle took place last night, as voters in North Carolina’s third district turned out to choose who will replace the late-Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). With the primary in the books, AR/Intel compiled the topline information you need to know about the election and what to expect moving forward. In this week’s Political Edge, we also provided a summary of a three-part FiveThirtyEight series on the predictive power of early presidential polling and highlighted some data from a new Census Bureau report on the 2018 midterm.
Recapping The NC-03 Primary
With 17 candidates running in the crowded Republican primary, it seemed almost inevitable that no one would get the 30% needed to avoid a primary runoff. Indeed, no candidate crossed the necessary threshold, and Republicans Greg Murphy and Joan Perry will face off in the July 9 runoff. The winner of that contest will face Democrat Allen Thomas, who defeated Washington-favored Richard Bew in what turned out to be a fairly lopsided victory. Below are the vote tallies for the top 4 finishers for each party as well as some background information on the winners.
Republicans (42,187 Total Votes in NC-03)
Greg Murphy – 22.54% (9,507)
Joan Perry – 15.44% (6,515)
Phil Shepard – 12.05% (5,082)
Michael Speciale – 9.51% (4,010)
Democrats (25,813 Total Votes in NC-03)
Allen Thomas – 50.02% (12,912)
Richard Bew – 25.22% (6,511)
Dana E. Outlaw – 12.62% (3,258)
Ike Johnson – 6.83% (1,762)
Greg Murphy (R-NC) is a state representative and physician. Murphy attended Davidson College where he graduated with honors in Pre-Med and Religion. He later graduated with honors from UNC-CH School of Medicine. Murphy run his own private practice and is also a member of the ECU School of Medicine Faculty. He is a former chief of staff of Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. In the state legislature, Murphy is the senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Joan Perry (R-NC) is a doctor and former member of the UNC Board of Governors. Perry attended UNC Chapel Hill for undergrad and med school and has worked as a pediatrician at Kinston Pediatrics for 33 years. She has also served as an assistant professor at the UNC School of Medicine since 1999.
Allen Thomas (D-NC) was the former mayor of Greenville, NC where he served for three terms before resigning in 2017 to become the executive director of the North Carolina Global TransPark. Thomas founded IQMax Healthcare Technologies which allowed doctors and medical professionals to securely manage their daily medical workflow by linking and interfacing multiple facilities through their phones and devices.
AR/Intel Insiders: For more on the special election, check out the updated NC-03 Race Brief.
Using Poll History to Predict The 2020 Democratic Nominee
FiveThirtyEight recently concluded a three-part series where analysts did a deep dive into the predicative power of presidential primary polls. Looking through early polls from 1972 to 2016, the analysts were able to identify several trends. The whole piece can be read here if you want to dig into the methodology, but the author’s main finding is that a candidate’s adjusted polling average (polling average divided by name recognition) is a decent proxy for teasing out the strength of a candidate, especially early in the election cycle.
Generally speaking, candidates polling at 35 percent or higher in the year preceding the presidential contest ended up winning the nomination. If the candidate polled in that range in the first half of the year (January through June), they became the nominee 75 percent of the time. That percentage rose to 83 percent if they were polling at 35 percent in the second half of the year.
While the authors acknowledge that there are exceptions to the model (Michael Dukakis in 1988, for example), presidential primary watchers may want to keep an eye out for which candidate hits a polling average of 35 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden appears primed to hit that number first, as a CNN and Morning Consult released this week showed him with 39 percent and 36 percent support, respectively.
Census Bureau Looks at 2018 Voting Trends
This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released a survey reviewing what prompted the surge in voter turnout during the 2018 midterm election. Voter turnout increased by 11 percent last year and had the highest midterm turnout since 1914. Below are several notable highlights from the report:
“Among 18- to 29-year-olds, voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group — a 79 percent jump.”
“Unlike the 2014 midterm election, voter turnout among those living in nonmetropolitan areas (up 8 points) was lower than for those living in metropolitan areas (up 12 points).”
“Voter turnout increased among non-Hispanic Asians by 13 percentage points, a 49 percent increase. Among Hispanics, voter turnout increased by 13 percentage points, a 50 percent increase in Hispanic voter turnout. Non-Hispanic black voter turnout increased by 11 percentage points.”
The Hill also noted, “turnout rose among groups that have become President Trump’s core constituencies: Participation among those who have not received a high school diploma increased by 5 percentage points, and more than half of rural Americans showed up to vote, a nearly 8 percentage point increase. But they were swamped by voters in big cities, whose turnout rose by 13 points, and those who have attained advanced degrees, up 12 points. Nearly three quarters of voters with an advanced degree, and almost two-thirds of those with a college degree, cast a ballot.”