Contested NC House race in dead heat: internal poll

Democrat Dan McCready and North Carolina Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop are neck and neck in their race to represent the state’s contested 9th Congressional District, according to an internal poll from McCready’s campaign obtained first by The Hill on Monday.

The survey, conducted by the Democratic firm ALG Research, shows McCready and Bishop tied at 46 percent each among likely voters in the district’s September 10 special election, while another 8 percent of likely voters said they were undecided.

When respondents were told about Bishop’s 2017 state Senate vote against a bill allowing pharmacists to discuss lower-cost alternative drugs with patients, McCready’s support in the race went up to 51 percent, according to the internal poll, while Bishop dropped to 43 percent and 6 percent remained undecided.

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In a memo, pollsters John Anzalone and Kevin Akin said that McCready was in a “competitive position” to flip a district that has been held by Republicans since 1963 and one carried by President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE in 2016 by more than 11 points.

“NC-09 is an opportunity for Democrats to expand their margin in Congress by winning a hard-fought election in a district carried by Donald Trump,” the pollsters wrote.

“With sufficient resources to communicate in the expensive Charlotte media market, McCready can win this special election – the most competitive race since the 2018 midterm election,” they continued.

McCready and Bishop are running in an election ordered by North Carolina officials in February after the state elections board threw out the results of a November 2018 vote showing then-Republican candidate Mark HarrisMark HarrisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate Why my American Indian tribe voted Republican in NC's special election North Carolina race raises 2020 red flags for Republicans, Democrats MORE edging out McCready by less than 1,000 ballots.

The 2018 election was marred by allegations of absentee ballot fraud on the part of McCrae Dowless, a political operative hired by Harris’s campaign. After the elections board tossed out the initial results, Harris announced that he would not continue his campaign for the 9th District seat.

McCready remained the only Democrat in the race after that decision, while Bishop beat out a crowded field of Republicans in a primary vote in May.

When it comes to favorability, McCready has the edge, the poll shows. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they have a positive opinion of McCready, compared to 33 percent who said they have a favorable view of Bishop. At the same time, 29 percent have an unfavorable view of McCready, while 26 percent said the same of Bishop.

The political makeup of the district still leans in Republicans’ favor. Republicans hold a 9-point lead over Democrats on a generic congressional ballot in the district — 48 percent to 39 percent, according to the internal poll. Still, the polling memo notes, McCready is outperforming a generic Democrat on that metric.

The internal poll surveyed 450 likely special election voters in the 9th District from July 15-18. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

Democrats have sought to put health care and drug prices at the center of the 9th District special election, seizing on Bishop’s 2017 vote against the final version of the Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act. 

That bill, which has since been signed into law, allowed pharmacists to talk to patients about lower-cost alternative drugs. Bishop voted for an early Senate version of that measure before becoming the only Republican in the chamber to vote against the final version. 

He told the Charlotte Observer last month that he decided to vote against the bill because he was not given enough time to read through it.

“I support banning pharmacy gag orders,” Bishop told the newspaper in an email. “[The] companion House version was added to the Senate calendar .. .at the last minute and ... I don’t vote for bills without an opportunity to read them. This is a completely misleading attack ... that ignores the real facts.”