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The Party Line is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s elections, debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

Primary Serves As General Election For Many Legislative Seats

Tuesday’s primary election is full of interesting competitions on the ballot: several competitive U.S. House districts (including the 9th and 8th here in the Charlotte area), a battle among Democrats to go up against Republican Pat McCrory, and the constitutional amendment regarding marriage.

Along with these notable contests are 120 seats in the N.C. House of Representatives and 50 seats in the N.C. Senate that are up for grabs this November. But barring a massive write-in campaign in the fall, many of these contests will decide November’s winner in May.

That’s because 40 percent of the North Carolina State House of Representatives and 38 percent of the state Senate will already have their winners determined after Tuesday’s vote.

In the N.C. House, 48 seats have candidates who will win on May 8th due to either not having an opposition party challenger and no intra-party challenger, or only have an intra-party challenger for the party nomination. 

Among Democrats, 13 house districts have candidates who face no opposition from their party nor from the opposition. Another 10 districts have contests for the Democratic nomination, but no Republican opposition come November’s general election.

Likewise, Republicans have 15 house districts with candidates facing no opposition from either their party nor from Democrats in the fall, while another 10 districts have only Republican nomination contests, but no Democratic candidate opposing them come November.

In Mecklenburg County, three house districts — 103, 104 and 106 — can have their nominees and November winner already declared before the votes are counted on May 8th: Bill Brawley, Ruth Samuelson and Carla Cunningham, respectively.

Among the 18 state senate districts with a pass once they get through the May 8th primary, 3 districts have Democrats with no opposition — either within the party or from Republicans — while another 4 districts have only Democrats vying for their party’s nomination.

For the Republicans, 6 districts have Republican candidates who face no contest from within the GOP party or from the Democrats, while another 5 districts face only opposition for the party’s nomination. 

For example, once the voters pick from among five candidates in the GOP primary for Senate District 41 in Mecklenburg County, that nominee faces no Democratic opposition..

As we try to decipher the voters’ intents following May’s primary election, we have to be cognizant of the fact that for a vast number of contests for the fall, the winner—in well over a third of all the legislative races—is already determined by this point in the game. 

And with the power of political gerrymandering determining (for the most part) who will fill many of the other seats, the job of political analysts will be much easier to determine over the next six months.