Updated Sep 11, 2019 - Politics & Policy

What the North Carolina special election means for 2020

In this image, a blurred "vote here" sign rests in the foreground on a green lawn. Behind that sign, two signs stand next to each other that read "Dan McCready" and "Dan Bishop"

Campaign signs for McCready and Bishop in Waxhaw, North Carolina, Sept. 10. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Republican Dan Bishop will represent North Carolina’s 9th District in Congress after narrowly winning Tuesday's special election. It was a surprisingly tight race in a district that President Trump carried by 12 points in 2016, per Politico.

The big picture: Bishop's win against McCready, a centrist who ultimately raised more money than his Republican counterpart, could be an optimistic sign for the GOP as they eye taking back the House in 2020. However, Bishop only won by 2 percentage points in a district that hasn’t been held by Democrats since 1963, the New York Times notes.

Between the lines: Per AP, the results in the North Carolina district underscore the rural-urban divide between the Republican and Democratic parties, with Bishop making substantial gains in outlying regions and McCready eroding GOP advantages in suburban areas.

  • McCready's narrow loss in a conservative seat, coupled with 2018 midterm results that saw the Democratic candidates flip several GOP-held House seats in districts that Trump had won, could signify trouble for Trump, NYT notes.
  • Democrats had a higher early voting turnout rate in the district for this election compared to the same point during the midterms, according to Working America, the political arm of the nonprofit union federation AFL-CIO. (It interviewed 2,817 working-class voters to determine turnout rate.)

Background: State officials in February ordered a new election to be held in the congressional district, invalidating a win by then-GOP candidate Mark Harris in the 2018 midterms amid ballot fraud allegations concerning conservative operatives.

What he's saying: Trump — who implored North Carolinians to vote for Bishop a day earlier — hailed what he called a big night for the Republican Party, after GOP state legislator Greg Murphy won another special election earlier to keep a House district along North Carolina’s Atlantic coast, as expected, per AP.

Reality check: Per AP, there is no evidence from public polling that Bishop ever trailed Democrat Dan McCready by such a large margin.

Go deeper: N.C.'s House special election shows Democrats are still running on health care

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details, including the election results.

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