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Inside Elections poll: Democrat McCready leads GOP’s Bishop in NC redo election

8 percent ‘unsure’ as vote nears for seat left vacant since 2018 election was thrown out

Democrat Dan McCready, who narrowly lost last year’s election in North Carolina's 9th District only to have the results thrown out amid fraud allegations, held a narrow lead over Republican Dan Bishop in an Inside Elections poll less than two weeks before the redo election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrat Dan McCready has a narrow advantage over Republican Dan Bishop heading into the final days of the Sept. 10 redo election in North Carolina’s 9th District, according to a new bipartisan poll for Inside Elections

The survey, conducted from Monday through Wednesday by Harper Polling and Clarity Campaign Labs, showed McCready ahead of Bishop, 46 percent to 42 percent, with two third-party candidates receiving a combined 3 percent. Some 8 percent of voters were “unsure” and the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.19 percentage points.

When voters who were leaning toward one candidate were included, McCready’s advantage extended to 49-44 percent.

In November 2018, McCready finished less than a point behind Republican Mark Harris, but a winner was never certified or seated in Congress because of allegations of fraud by a GOP consultant affiliated with the Harris campaign. (Harris opted against running in the redo election.)

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President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in North Carolina the day before the election and tweeted his support for Bishop the day that rally was announced. But Trump’s job approval rating in the district has deteriorated since last fall. The new poll found 47 percent approved of the job he’s doing compared to 48 percent who disapproved.

In the final Siena College poll for The New York Times last cycle, conducted Oct. 26-30, Trump’s job rating in the district was 52 percent approve/41 percent disapprove. He carried the district by 11 points in 2016.

Because Republicans are trying rally base voters by elevating New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the new face of the Democratic Party, the poll tested her standing in the district. She had a 20 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable rating. In comparison, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a 32 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable rating, and Vice President Joe Biden was at 40 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable.

The poll is the result of a collaboration for Inside Elections between a Republican polling firm, Harper Polling, and a Democratic polling firm, Clarity Campaign Labs. Field work was divided between the two firms and survey design and methodological decisions were made jointly. The sample size for the survey was 551 likely special election voters. Responses were gathered via mobile telephone interviews conducted by live callers at a professional call center, and landline interviews conducted using Interactive Voice Response.

There’s still more than a week of television ads and campaigning to play out before the final votes are cast. And with Bishop and McCready polling so close to each other and the uncertainty of special election turnout, neither candidate has the clear advantage. With that in mind, Inside Elections is maintaining its Toss-up rating of the race.

Special election results are not always predictors of upcoming general elections, but a McCready win would still be significant, increasing to 20 the number of seats Republicans need to gain to win back the House next year. A Bishop victory would leave the net gain target at 19 seats.

If McCready wins, Republicans will point out that he isn’t easily tied to Washington and does not have votes in Congress to defend, unlike the dozens of targeted Democratic freshmen. And McCready enjoyed a larger financial advantage than most vulnerable incumbents will have in 2020.

Democrats, on the other hand, will point out that Republicans spent $4.5 million in party money in an effort to keep a seat that Trump carried by more than 10 points — even if McCready narrowly loses.

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