At the legislative level, last week's decision partially throwing out the use of districts drawn by a court appointed "special master" means that districts drawn for Mecklenburg County by the General Assembly last August will take effect.
For NC Senate 41 representing North Mecklenburg and currently held by Jeff Tarte of Cornelius this still means the district will look significantly different than it did in 2016 at the last election.
|2016 NC Senate Election Districts|
|2018 NC Senate Election Districts|
NC Senate 41 will now cover North Mecklenburg and West Mecklenburg rather than the North and East sides of the county. This change will likely make it a more competitive race than in the past as the new NC 41 is less Republican than the old NC 41. Also, the significant change in the precincts that make up the new district means even as the incumbent, Tarte will have to introduce himself to a lot of new voters. Furthermore, several of those new precincts in the southwest of the county skew strongly Democratic.
Into that swirling cauldron of change jumps Natasha Marcus of Davidson to challenge Tarte for the newly drawn NC Senate 41 district this fall. Marcus made the announcement of her candidacy this past week.
Marcus ran unsuccessfully against Republican John Bradford for the NC-98 House seat in 2014, so she is not new to the state level political fray. She has a proven ability to raise money and should run a disciplined campaign. However, since she is from North Mecklenburg it is unclear how well known she is to the majority of Democratic party voters in the south end of the county where the bulk of Democrats in the new district live. It also is possible of course that she won't end up as the only Democrat filing to run. That would set up a primary situation.
From the news reports so far it looks like the Marcus campaign believes the district is truly in play and is hanging its hopes on the fact Hillary Clinton won the precincts that make up the new district in the 2016 Presidential campaign.
aShortChronicle took a look at that factor, but also checked the results for all the other state and federal races that cycle in the precincts that make up the new NC Senate 41. The below chart shows which party won each precinct in the given race.
The results are interesting. While it is true Clinton won a majority of voters and a majority of the precincts in the new NC Senate 41 in the Presidential election, Republicans won a majority of the precincts in all the other races. Note: This chart is at the precinct level and does not indicate the actual vote totals in these races. Winning a precinct by 1 vote versus 1000 votes yields the same result. However, when looking at the data this way it shows the general lean of the precincts across all races.
Since candidates matter and Trump was clearly a controversial candidate for a lot of people, hanging election hopes on Clinton's win in these precincts may be overly optimistic. On the flip side one can not read too much into the fact that for NC Senate races in 2016 Republican candidates won 9 more precincts than Democrats. While that number seems large, several of these precinct level Republican"wins" in the south end of the district were very close and could easily go the other way - particularly if both candidates are new to voters.
Regardless of who you want to win, the dynamics of this race are going to be interesting as it unfolds.