HUFFMAN: Red wave rising

Republican candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Bo Hines, of North Carolina, waves to the crowd before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Selma, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

Shortly after the Labor Day holiday I took to the pages of this publication with the opinion that the summer resurgence in Democrat fortunes would give way to a fall swoon. Fueled by anger over the Dobbs decision and an early spending edge the Democrats looked like a good bet to hold the Senate while gaining an outside shot at retaining the Speaker’s gavel in Nancy Pelosi’s hands.

Just under 2 weeks out from Election Day we now see that the center has not held, with dramatic stakes for both North Carolina and the country.

One look at the early voting numbers for Democrats in North Carolina can only elicit one response: YIKES. On the first day of early voting in 2020 it was modeled that Democrats had a nearly 20 point advantage. They still managed to lose almost every statewide race that November. The first few days of early voting in 2022 reveal a slim, single digit margin for Team Blue.

Any North Carolina politico worth their salt knows that the Democrats must run up a massive early vote margin to weather the gale force winds of same day voting by Republicans. If Democrats are doing no better than a 6-7 point advantage in early voting then Katie bar the door on Election Night.

Continued shifts in the generic ballot poll by both the New York Times and CBS show Republicans with a 4-5 lead, a reversal of Democrats summer surge. Still more polling from NBC shows that Republican voter intensity remains as intense as we saw in Virginia last fall, when rural turnout saw Trumplike margins and raw numbers. Meanwhile outside conservative groups have evened the odds up, putting Democrats on the defensive even in states like Oregon and New York.

The chair of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, Sean Patrick Maloney, had to shift $600,000 in last minute spending to shore up his seat, again in the Empire State.

Sufficed to say if Democrats are struggling in places like New York and Rhode Island then Bo Hines will be joining the North Carolina Congressional Delegation next January. And it’s also a clear sign that the Republican path to supermajorities on Jones Street is widening. State Sen. Michael Lee looks to be in great shape, and if low Democrat turnout continues then Wesley Meredith will be on track to rejoin the Republican State Senate Caucus. Throw in the prospect of a Republican controlled state Supreme Court and the last leg Democrats will have remaining is a term-limited Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein.

The statewide environment for Republicans may not be quite to 2010 levels just yet, but the red wave is rising and rising fast. Baton down the hatches Democrats, Election Night won’t be the end of your troubles.