In today’s journal, JLF’s John Hood assesses the political landscape as we head into the final two-month sprint toward Election Day. His first point is to focus on “likely voter” surveys rather than registered voters. His conclusion after averaging several major polls:
Based on these data, you could say that the two sides have been in a marathon and are entering the homestretch neck-and-neck. Or you could say that the two sides have only been warming up and are now at the starting line. Either analogy works. Republicans counting on a gigantic, 2010-style wave to wash over the state are likely to be disappointed. Democrats counting on a gigantic backlash against the Republican legislature are also likely to be disappointed.
Whoever wins the Senate race will probably do so by a small margin. In General Assembly races, I’d be surprised if Democrats didn’t gain some seats. There is a regular ebb and flow to state politics, particularly when a new set of leaders implements a new policy agenda. In modern times, all North Carolina governors have seen their party lose legislative seats in their first midterms. It happened to Jim Holshouser, Jim Hunt (twice), Jim Martin, Mike Easley, and Bev Perdue.
The average loss, believe it or not, is a combined 22 seats in both chambers (out of 170 total members). If that were to happen, you might end up with something like a 27-23 Republican edge in the Senate and a bare-minimum 61-59 Republican edge in the House. But few political pros on both sides think Democrats will perform at even that average level, given their manifest electoral and organizational disadvantages. The probable outcomes are smaller but still solid GOP majorities in both chambers.
My view is that the media narrative of widespread anger and disagreement with the Republican-led General Assembly is a misrepresentation that is a reflection of Raleigh-centric anti-Republican sentiment. I believe the anti-Republican narrative is consistent with what the media told us in 2012: that the electorate was outraged over the Marriage Amendment and would head to the polls in droves to defeat it. That narrative was wrong of course.