Who will win the 2020 North Carolina House races?
Important note to start this article: Redistricting waits for nobody, and North Carolina has already experienced it as a result of a 2019 court order and subsequent redraw.1 There are new district lines in effect for the 2020 North Carolina House races, at a time when this state is voting for president, Senate, and governor. The 2018 vote percentages you see are based off of the old district lines. Several districts have markedly changed in character as a result of this redistricting and that may explain why you may think some of our predictions are way off from how the seat voted two years ago.
So, what does that mean for the conventional wisdom? Expect the Democrats to gain seats in North Carolina. The courts pushed the legislature to undo some favorable GOP districts in much the same way as Pennsylvania was drawn to be a more compact map a few years ago. It is neither a Republican nor Democratic gerrymander at this point, but the next thing you can expect is virtually no competitive House races. Just worked out that way. A lot of these new districts are politically homogeneous.
Still, any time you have a state that’s going to be flipping a few seats, it’s consequential in the national picture. We’re here to help you figure out how this map will look in 2021.
NC US House Rating Scale
There are not going to be any tossups on this ratings scale of 2020 North Carolina House races.
2020 North Carolina House Races Current Prediction Summary: October 31
Current North Carolina US House Map
This is an interior seat, but not too-far interior seat, very similar to how it was drawn in the past. Democrats tend to do well in this part of North Carolina, but what might hurt GK Butterfield’s final margins is that it’s losing very blue Durham.
This used to be a seat that skated around the outskirts of Raleigh, but not encompassing any of the three big cities in the Triangle. That is no longer the case, as the new 2nd District is in essence Wake County. George Holding declined to run for re-election in this much more Democratic seat, and would have lost if he had.
The Outer Banks is GOP territory anyway, but this district still dips down towards Jacksonville, which is part of a heavy military area. This seat is safe.
Durham and Chapel Hill in the same congressional district means the Democrats are going to run up big totals here. David Price would have won under his prior district lines and will win under the new lines.
Virginia Foxx does not have a lot to be concerned about with regards to the effects of redistricting. Her seat is rural and not Democratic, and in fact, redistricting probably helped her out this time since she lost Winston-Salem.
RATINGS CHANGE, SEPT 10: D2 TO D3
SEPT. 10: This seat was never on the board for the GOP anymore, but it deserves to be called “safe.” This is not Republican territory anymore since redistricting.
MAY 24: Here is another seat, like the 2nd District, that got an extreme makeover and became a lot more Democratic in nature. Mark Walker would have had very little shot in getting re-elected as a GOP candidate in a seat that has zoomed in on the Triad.
Redistricting is not going to affect the bottom line here much, with David Rouzer on his way to another win in this Wilmington-based district.
RATINGS CHANGE: R2 to R1
August 10: We still like the Republicans in this district, but not by much anymore. The GOP is probably not that comfortable with the polling, despite being ahead.
May 16: There is a bit of disagreement out there as to just how Republican this new seat looks for Richard Hudson, but the bottom line is that he should be able to get re-elected. The new 8th District includes Fayetteville and Concord.
RATINGS CHANGE, SEPT 10: R1 TO R2
RATINGS CHANGE: R2 to R1
August 10: We do not think this race is going to be as competitive as what the 8th District looks like, but North Carolina’s trends are blue (though not overwhelmingly so). This was a close one in 2018 and 2019 and so we are dropping it to a weak lean. However, this could go back up to a strong lean should GOP polling stabilize in the state. Should Donald Trump carry North Carolina, we don’t think the GOP will lose this seat, but right now, we don’t have that happening.
May 16: North Carolina’s 9th District has gotten quite a bit of attention in the last few years. First, it was the site of a competitive midterm election race that got annulled, and then, the site of a contentious special election that the GOP held. The new 9th District strongly resembles the old one but for a few changes, however this race doesn’t have the same “it” factor as in 2018 or 2019. Dan McCready is not running again for the Democrats, and if he couldn’t win despite a huge fundraising advantage, national Democratic attention, and being on the trail for two years, it’s hard to imagine Democrats winning it now in a presidential year.
The new 10th District stretches almost from Virginia to South Carolina, but there are not a whole lot of Democratic bastions in that span.
RATINGS CHANGE, OCT. 31: R2 to R1
RATINGS CHANGE, SEPT. 10: R3 TO R2
SEPT. 10: Madison Cawthorn should not have too hard of a time winning this seat, but safe? Not this time. Buncombe County is going to add a sizable block of Democratic votes that should keep down Cawthorn’s margin.
MAY 24: Western North Carolina, including Asheville, has a vacant seat, but when it’s not vacant anymore, a Republican will be filling it.
The 12th District is still mostly Charlotte, meaning its strong Democratic voting bloc is uncompromised.
Meanwhile, the 13th District got a good amount more Republican thanks to redistricting. Ted Budd was in a tight race last time but 2020 should not be as difficult given that his seat isn’t touching any big population centers anymore.
NC House References
1: Brian Murphy and Will Doran, “New congressional maps in North Carolina will stand for 2020, court rules,” The News and Observer, December 3, 2019, News & Observer Link)