The second primary of the 2020 election cycle took place last night, as voters in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District turned out to choose who will serve the congressional seat that has been vacant since January. With the primary in the books, AR/Intel compiled the top line information you need to know about the election and what to expect moving forward. In this week’s Political Edge, we also breakdown a new Senate ranking system from FiveThirtyEight and review which 2020 candidates are receiving the most media coverage.
Recapping the NC-09 Primary
Despite having a field of 10 candidates, Republicans avoided heading to a primary runoff in yesterday’s special election for North Carolina’s Ninth District. With 100% precincts reporting, state Sen. Dan Bishop easily won the primary with 47.67% of the vote (14,178). Coming in second with 19.57% (5,820) of the vote was Stony Rushing, a gun-range owner and county commissioner. They were followed by Marine veteran Matthew Ridenhour (17.03%) and realtor Leigh Thomas Brown (8.82%), who received $1.3M in outside support from the National Association of Realtors.
Turnout in the special was extremely low, with only 9.57% of voters heading to the polls. For comparison, the NC-03 special election last week had a turnout of 14.52%.
Bishop will face off against Democrat Dan McCready on September 10, 2019. McCready, who also ran in 2018, is a consultant, investor, and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp. He attended Duke University for his undergraduate degree and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2011. In 2013, McCready founded Double Time Capital, an investment firm aimed at building “clean American energy.” McCready ran a congressional campaign against Mark Harris in North Carolina’s 9th District in 2018.
“Popularity Above Replacement Senators” Scoring
FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich recently unveiled a new metric designed to measure a senator’s popularity within the context of the partisan lean of their state. Called “Popularity Above Replacement Senator” (PARS), the metric is calculated by measuring the distance between a politician’s net approval rating in their state (based on numbers from The Morning Consult) and the state’s partisan lean.
Rakich asserts that the PARS scoring can be used to give “clues about which of the senators whose seats are up in 2020 might be poised to over- or underperform their party’s presidential ticket.” Below are the top fifteen PARS scores, as well as Rakich’s thoughts on several high-profile Senate contests in 2020.
Alabama: Sen. Doug Jones (D) “comes in at No. 2 in PARS with a score of +33. Jones is a Democratic senator in R+27 Alabama, so he’s fighting an uphill battle. And if he is able to maintain a positive net approval rating (it’s +6 currently), that will be a sign of life for his candidacy.”
Maine: “Republican Sen. Susan Collins is another senator who hopes to overcome the partisan lean of her state (Maine is 5 points more Democratic-leaning than the nation) to win reelection. Her net approval rating in the Morning Consult poll has been on the decline over the past two years, but she still has a solid +13 net approval rating. The question is whether the results in 2020 will be closer to her net approval rating or Maine’s light-blue partisanship; splitting the difference yields a race that leans (or tilts) Republican, which is exactly where major election handicappers have it.”
Colorado/Iowa/North Carolina/Texas: Republican Sens. Cory Gardner (CO), Joni Ernst (IA), Thom Tillis (NC), and John Cornyn (TX) “each has a PARS between +1 and -3, indicating that their net approval rating is in line with their states’ partisan lean. If the Democratic presidential nominee carries their states (admittedly, this will be easier for Colorado than for Texas), the party may get a Senate seat as a bonus.”
Which 2020 Candidates Are Receiving the Most Media Coverage?
Last week, analysts at the media intelligence company Meltwater took a look at media coverage of 2020 Democrats for Politico. Analysts looked at coverage from January 1 to April 30, 2019 and found that Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren accounted for more than half of the primary field’s traditional news media mentions. Additional notes from the analysis are provided below.
- “Harris and Warren were surpassed only by Sanders in traditional news media mentions, though they announced their candidacies relatively early in the year, giving them more time to amass coverage.”
- According to the report, “Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker each accounted for 5 percent to 10 percent of the field’s total share of news mentions in the first four months of the year.”
- Neither Beto O’Rourke nor Pete Buttigieg accounted for more than 5 percent of the field’s news coverage during the first four months of the year.