What are the chances of the GOP winning a supermajority in North Carolina’s General Assembly in this November’s General Election? While the probability of that happening looked pretty good earlier in the year, many experts say the chances for that happening have now diminished.
“Compared to earlier in the year, polling doesn’t look nearly as good for Republicans in 2022,” said Jordan Roberts, director of government affairs for the John Locke Foundation. “However, I believe both chambers will have a Republican majority next year. I think there is still a slim chance Republicans get a supermajority which would change the priorities for the caucuses for the biennium. Without a supermajority, I believe we will see more of the status quo of legislative stalemates on major issues in which the executive and the legislative branches disagree.”
Republicans need 72 seats in the House and 30 in the Senate to secure a supermajority. That means the GOP needs a net pickup of three seats in the House and two in the Senate.
“Since the Legislative Generic ballot has tightened, we had to change the districts to watch to include some of these swing districts,” said Jim Stirling, research fellow at the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Center for Public Integrity, referring to the Civitas Partisan Index. “House Republicans need to take 14 of the 19, while the Senate will require 6 out of 9 Lean Dem/ Toss-up seats. While a Senate supermajority is still possible, it will be a difficult uphill fight for Republicans to win one in the House.”
A supermajority is crucial because it means lawmakers could pass legislation and ostensibly override the veto pen of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Lawmakers and Cooper have been at a stalemate over various issues since 2019 due to the governor’s veto.
With the economy worsening, inflation at a 40-year high, and rising interest rates, it is also a midterm year. Typically, the direction should be in the Republicans’ favor because they don’t have the White House. Andy Taylor, Professor of Political Science at N.C. State University breaks down why that isn’t the case this year.
“Inevitably, the presence of Trump, national economic issues, the Dobbs decision, all of those issues are going to filter down into the state legislative races,” he said. “Democrats have done a pretty good job of trying to label Republicans as extreme on the (abortion) issue. I think Trump is casting a negative shadow on Republicans in this election. He continues to be a presence in discussions about politics.”
Taylor said another metric could be considered when seeing which direction legislative races could go.
“We have a U.S. Senate race which is a really good way of understanding statewide sentiment this year,” said Taylor. “And that’s very close, effectively tied. I’m not sure how much of a tailwind the Republicans are now going to get from the general political environment, which should be a considerable one in a mid-term year.”
Taylor said a vast majority of districts in the House and Senate don’t seem competitive at the general election level between the two parties, which will keep the focus on a few races, making the margin of error smaller.
However, the consensus among Taylor and other analysts is that Republicans will not lose control of the Senate or House, as Democrats would need a net gain of four in the Senate and 10 in the House to flip a chamber.
Regardless of what happens with the possibility of a supermajority, change is on the way for the General Assembly next year. There will be many new faces in the Legislative Building in Raleigh come January, with changes in redistricting, open seats, and people retiring or running for other offices.
Several seats have a chance to flip parties. In the Senate, those include Senate District 4, incumbent Sen. Toby Fitch, D-Wilson, vs. former Sen. Eldon “Buck” Newton, R-Wilson. In District 10, the seat currently held by incumbent Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, will feature Gettys Cohen Jr., D. vs. Benton Sawrey. Jackson will run unopposed in Disrict 9, the seat currently held by incumbent Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, who will run against Democrat newcomer Marcia Morgan in District 7. Incumbent Sen. Jim Perry currently holds District 7’s seat, R, Lenoir, and will run unopposed in District 2, which incumbent Sen. Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, has presently. Sanderson will run unopposed in District 1.
Sen. Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck, who resigned from the House in August to fill the seat in District 1 of Sen. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, who retired in July, will be squaring off against Democrat Valerie Jordan in District 3. This comes after Hanig disputed that Jordan didn’t live in District 3. The Democrat-controlled N.C. State Board of Elections overruled the Currituck County elections board, who said Jordan most likely wasn’t a resident in the district.
Another seat to watch is District 18, currently held by incumbent Sarah Crawford-D. A three-way race will include Mary Bode, D, E.C. Sykes, R, and Libertarian candidate Ryan Brown. Crawford is running in N.C. House District 66 against Ives Brizulea de Sholar, R, and Micao Penaflor, L.
In District 19, a seat currently held by incumbent Kirk deViere, D-Cumberland, Democrat Val Applewhite, who defeated deViere in the primary, will square off against Republican Wesley Meredith. He previously held the seat before deViere.
Another interesting race to follow in the Senate is District 11, where incumbent Lisa Barnes, R-Nash will go against Mark Speed, D.
There are numerous races in the House to keep an eye on. The race in District 2 will feature incumbent Rep. Larry Yarborough, R-Person, Ray Jeffers, D, and Gavin Bell, L. In District 5, incumbent Rep. Howard Hunter III, D-Hertford vs. Bill Ward, R. Incumbent Rep. Brian Farkas, D-Pitt, will face off against newcomer Timothy Reeder, R, in District 9. In District 24, it’s incumbent Rep. Linda Suggs, D-Wilson v. Ken Fontenot, R.
District 25 features incumbent Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, Allen Chesser II, R, and Nicholas Taylor, L. Incumbent Rep. Terrence Everitt, D-Wake, Fred Von Cannon, R, and Joseph Serio, L, will face off in District 35.
In District 47, a seat currently held by incumbent Rep. Charles Graham, D-Robeson, Charles Townsend, D, will go against Jarrod Lowery, R. Graham is set to run against David Rouzer, the Republican incumbent in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District.
In District 48, incumbent Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, will match up against Melissa Swarbrick, R. Former Rep. Stephen Ross, R, will fight to get his seat back when he takes on incumbent Rep. Ricky Hurtado, D-Alamance in District 63.
In District 104, it will be incumbent Rep. Brandon Lofton, D-Mecklenburg, vs. Republican Don Pomeroy. In District 50, a seat held by Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, Orange County Commissioner Renee Price, a Democrat, will face off against Republican Charles Lopez. Meyer is running in Senate District 23 against Republican Landon Woods.
The General Election is Tuesday, November 8th.
This article originally appeared in the Oct/Nov print edition of the Carolina Journal.