Elections

Who’s got the edge in this critical NC congressional district? Polls show it’s close.

Pastor Mark Harris, left, and former Marine and businessman Dan McCready, right, are vying for the N.C. 9th District congressional seat.
Pastor Mark Harris, left, and former Marine and businessman Dan McCready, right, are vying for the N.C. 9th District congressional seat.

Two new polls show that the race for North Carolina’s 9th District congressional seat remains close, as Democrats try to flip the longtime Republican seat.

Dan McCready, a U.S. Marine veteran and businessman, is running against Mark Harris, the former pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church. McCready, a Democrat, is running a centrist campaign and appealing to moderates, while Harris, a Republican, has emphasized his conservative credentials, especially on social issues.

In a pair of polls released over the last week, McCready leads one while Harris leads the other. Both polls show the race within their margins of error, and the race is likely to stay tight through Election Day, Nov. 6. The race is seen as a prime chance for Democrats to pick up a seat held by Republicans — one of 24 they need to flip control of the U.S. House.

“Dan McCready has been running a well-funded campaign to appeal to moderate Democrats and Republicans,” said Donald Bryson, president of the conservative-leaning Civitas Institute, based in Raleigh. “This strategy, along with the lack of an incumbent, has made this district much more competitive than anyone anticipated in the spring.”

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Harris and McCready are set to debate for the first time Wednesday at 7 p.m., in a forum hosted by the Observer and WBTV. The debate will air on WBTV and stream live on Facebook. The 9th District, which runs from southeast Charlotte to Fayetteville, has been held by Republicans for more than five decades.

Here’s what the latest polls show:

The Civitas poll spoke with 556 registered, likely voters between last Tuesday and Thursday. McCready came in first, with 45 percent support. Harris came in second, with 41 percent. That’s down slightly from an earlier poll this summer by Civitas that showed McCready with a 7 percent lead.

Libertarian Jeff Scott picked up 3 percent support, while 12 percent of voters said they were still undecided. The poll had a 4.7 percent margin of error.

A poll by the New York Times’ Upshot and Siena College put Harris in the lead, with 47 percent support. McCready came in second, with 42 percent support, while 11 percent of voters said they were undecided.

The pollsters spoke with 502 people, and the poll has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

“Each candidate’s total could easily be five points different if we polled everyone in the district,” the New York Times cautioned.

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