Pivot Counties play key role in NC-9 special election

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, Sept. 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Pivot County vote margins were more Republican in 2019 NC-9 special election compared to 2018 general
  2. Cameron (R) outraising Stumbo (D) by more than 2 to 1 in Kentucky attorney general race 
  3. Quiz: Which president didn’t appoint any Supreme Court justices?

Pivot County vote margins were more Republican in 2019 NC-9 special election compared to 2018 general

As we covered in the Brew, state Sen. Dan Bishop (R) won the Sept. 10 special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, defeating Democratic nominee Dan McCready 50.7 to 48.7%. 

The 9th Congressional District overlaps three pivot counties—Bladen, Richmond, and Robeson counties. Pivot counties are those that Barack Obama (D) won in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections and Donald Trump (R) won in the 2016 presidential election. There are 206 Pivot counties in 34 states, including six in North Carolina. The 9th District includes all of Richmond and Robeson counties and part of Bladen County. 

Bishop won Bladen and Richmond counties, while McCready won Robeson County. In the 2018 general election, uncertified results showed McCready leading in Richmond and Robeson and Republican candidate Mark Harris leading in Bladen.

The table below shows the two major-party candidates’ percentages of the vote in 2018 and 2019 in the three pivot counties:

Percentage of votes

The margins in all three counties shifted from 2018 to 2019 in favor of the Republican candidate—Bishop—by between 2.5 and 13.9 percentage points. The pivot county vote margin shifted in Bishop’s favor by 4,775 votes between 2018 and 2019. Bishop won the special election by 3,938 votes, carrying the three pivot counties by 1,252 votes. In 2018, McCready won them by 3,523 votes. 

Turnout in the 2019 special election was lower than in the 2018 general election. In 2019, McCready’s vote total declined 11,064 from the 2018 election. Bishop’s vote total was 6,289 less than Harris received in 2018. 

The state board of elections did not certify the results of the 2018 general election. An investigation into allegations of absentee voter fraud prompted the board to call for an entirely new election. These allegations included events in both Bladen and Robeson counties.

There are 206 pivot counties nationwide. In the 2018 congressional elections, Democratic U.S. House candidates won 113 of these counties—55%—and Republican candidates won 93. In 184 pivot counties—89%—the Republican U.S. House candidate had either a smaller margin of victory than Trump did in 2016 or lost the county to the Democratic U.S. House candidate.

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Cameron (R) outraising Stumbo (D) more than 2 to 1 in Kentucky attorney general race

The office of attorney general exists in all 50 states and is directly elected in 43 of them. There are 25 Democratic attorneys general and 24 Republican attorneys general. Hawaii’s attorney general—Clare E. Connors—is officially nonpartisan but was appointed by Democratic Gov. David Ige. 

Three states are holding elections for attorney general in 2019. In two of those states—Kentucky and Mississippi—the incumbent is a Democrat. The incumbent attorney general in Louisiana is Republican.

In the Kentucky attorney general’s race, Daniel Cameron (R) and former Attorney General Greg Stumbo (D) are running for this open seat. Incumbent Andy Beshear (D) did not run for re-election and is the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Cameron defeated state Sen. Wil Schroder in the May 21 Republican primary. President Donald Trump endorsed Cameron on July 29. Stumbo was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. 

Campaign finance reports covering the period from July 20 through Sept. 6 show Cameron outraised Stumbo $569,197 to $227,915. The chart below shows each candidate’s receipts, disbursements, and cash on hand throughout the campaign:

Campaign finance

Kentucky’s  next campaign finance filing deadline is Oct. 13. These reports will cover receipts and expenditures through Oct. 6—30 days before the Nov. 5 general election. 

Democrats have held Kentucky’s attorney general office since 1952. In the 2015 attorney general election, Beshear defeated Whitney Westerfield (R) by fewer than 2,200 votes, 50.1% to 49.9%. Trump won Kentucky in the 2016 presidential election over Hillary Clinton, 62.5% to 32.7%. 

Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi also have gubernatorial elections this year, as well as contests for 33 other state executive offices. Of the 36 state executive positions up for election in 2019, Republicans hold 28 and Democrats hold eight.

Kentucky is also holding state executive elections for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer.


Which president didn’t appoint any Supreme Court justices?

Yesterday’s Brew included a story about the number of judges President Trump has appointed compared with previous presidents. Trump has appointed the second-most federal judges by this point of his presidency going back to Theodore Roosevelt, who became president in 1901.

Among the 152 judges Trump has appointed are Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Since 1901, which president didn’t appoint any Supreme Court justices during his entire presidency?

Was it: