Voters In The 9th Like Trump A Lot. What's That Mean For Harris, McCready?
Polls show North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race between Republican Mark Harris and Dan McCready is too close to call.
But what’s unusual about the 9th is that – of all the toss-up districts in the country - its voters still strongly support President Trump.
In the 29 Congressional Districts that the Cook Political Report says are toss-ups, President Trump has the second-highest favorable rating in North Carolina’s 9th.
In the 9th District, 53 percent of voters approve of Trump’s job performance in the 9th, according to the New York Times and Sienna, which have been polling closely contested races before the Nov. 6 election.
That same poll shows Harris leading McCready in the 9th, 45 percent to 44 percent.
For McCready to win, he’ll have to convince thousands of Trump voters to break from Harris.
“I’ve had several people that have told me over the last 7 or 8 years that they think just like Trump thinks or just like I do, and then they will turn around tell me they are going to support a Democrat,” said David Edge, a Republican Commissioner from Robeson County.
Trump won Robeson by 5 percentage points in 2016. Edge is puzzled as to why any Trump supporter would vote for a Democrat.
The dynamics of the 9th District has played out in the campaign.
In their first debate, McCready mentioned Trump by name once – to praise him for scrutinizing trade deals.
And Harris shared a stage with the president at Bojangles’ Coliseum at a rally October 26.
June Niegum of Indian Trail is the type of voter that McCready must have. She is a retiree who once supported President Trump.
“I was for him in the beginning because he was a businessman, and he was going to be different," she said before voting early for McCready at the Stallings Volunteer Fire Department. "But the way he’s acting now, I’m putting up with him. I was going to give him a chance, but I can’t live with some of the things he’s putting out there now.”
She also didn’t like Harris’ controversial sermons from 2013 on the role of women in marriage and the workplace.
“His views on that sort of the thing are 50 years ago, and it’s not up to date,” she said.
But for many Union County voters at this polling station, the race is not so much about Harris and McCready. It’s all about the president.
“Is he Republican?" asked Greg Story of Indian Trail. "I’ll support him. As long as he’s Republican, and lean to conservative. I’ll support him.”
Ashlyn Hurley was one of the few voters who had a connection to Harris in particular.
“I voted for Mark Harris," she said. "I’m a Christian and I like his beliefs and what he’s standing for.”
She added that she believes the controversy of his 2013 sermons is overblown.
“I think a lot of things they are attacking him on are taken out of context," she said. "As wives we are called upon being servants to our husbands. It doesn’t mean getting stepped all over, it means we are being helpmates when we need to be.”
The Cook Political Report also lists North Carolina's 13th Congressional District as one of its toss-up races.
In that race, Republican incumbent Ted Budd leads Democrat Kathy Manning, with 47 percent to 41 percent, according to the New York Times. But in that district, the president's job approval is 49 percent to 45 percent who approve.
The toss-up district where Trump is most popular. It's New York's 22nd district east of Syracuse, where the president'a approval rating is 56 percent, according to the New York Times.