by Jim Stirling
Research Fellow, John Locke Foundation
Having already discussed the two incumbent primaries in the senate, Senate District Forty-Seven Hise v. Ballard and Senate District One Steinburg v. Sanderson. We now look to the House of Representatives and its incumbent primaries. The first is North Carolina House District 52, which has incumbents James Boles (R) & Ben Moss (R) pitted against one another in the May primary.
To compare both Representative’s Name ID in the new House District Fifty-Two, we measured the portion of their old districts in the new one based on total population, voting-age population, and potential Republican primary voters. That overlap population is factored at the precinct level and only counts the part of the old district that remains in the new district. We calculated Republican primary voters the same way we run the Civitas Partisan Index (CPI), taking statewide elections and averaging the elections out. The elections we used for these calculations were the statewide 2020 Republican primary elections for US Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Insurance, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor.
Due to Moore County not having all primary votes assigned to a specific precinct, we addressed this in the same way we have in the CPI. We averaged all one-stop, absentee, and provisional ballots and multiplied them by the proportion of the county’s voting-age population that is in the new district.
Boles is serving his 7th term in the General Assembly and is the Senior Chair for the Appropriations, Justice & Public Safety Committee. Moss is new to the General Assembly, having only just been elected in 2020 to his first term in state government. The new district includes all of Richmond County and half the population of Moore County.
While both Representatives have a comparable district overlap regarding total population and voting age, Moss has a slight advantage in both accounts. However, Boles has a distinct advantage in Name-ID due to the higher population of primary voters in Moore County compared to Richmond. Boles has been in office for nearly 14 years at the time of the election, increasing the likelihood of voters recognizing his name. While there are many other factors that go into an election, this would indicate Boles has a head start on Republican primary voters recognizing his name on the ballot in May.