It is no secret that North Carolina will be targeted by outside Democrat funding in next year’s mid-term elections. In their quest to retake a majority in the U.S. House and state General Assembly, Democrats need to shake up North Carolina. But there also is a not-so-well-kept secret that will confound this effort. Like many thriving states governed by Republican-controlled legislatures, North Carolina’s economic engine is roaring and it’s prospects for growth are soaring.
In 2011, when Republicans won their General Assembly majority, North Carolina’s unemployment rate exceeded 10 percent, House Speaker Tim Moore recalled during a recent address before the Moore County Republican Men’s Club in Pinehurst. Moore’s message certainly resonates with Republicans, who have seen that rate plunge to around four percent, but it’s difficult to comprehend how Democrats will be able to disparage this and other economic data points on the 2018 election stump. But disparage they will.
Listening to Moore’s summation of the state’s dynamic economy, we could not help feeling a tinge of melancholy as well. This same story of prosperity and growth was making headlines in 2016 but Republicans and, specifically, Governor Pat McCrory’s re-election campaign, managed to underplay it. This is mind boggling in retrospect.
Let’s not repeat this mistake during the 2018 campaign. If the campaign narrative is about the economy, N.C. Republicans should continue to be well represented in Raleigh and Washington. But messaging discipline and clarity can’t be taken for granted. The key points shared by Speaker Moore are these:
- The state’s tax structure and regulatory environment are attracting new businesses and encouraging established businesses to expand.
- 89,000 new jobs were added during a 12-month period ending September 2017.
- North Carolina has seen a $4 billion swing from debt to savings in six years and has achieved a Triple-A bond rating from the three major agencies. Only 11 other states share this top rating.
- The state’s unemployment insurance tax fund carries a surplus, which is part of $1.8 billion in “rainy day” reserves.
Strong economic data, while difficult for Democrats to refute, is frequently misrepresented by Democrat Governor Roy Cooper, and others, as resulting solely from the repeal of the so-called “bathroom bill” (HB2) after Cooper was sworn in last January. A complicit mainstream media is more than willing to let them get away with overlooking the fact North Carolina has been turning around since 2011 under Republican majorities in the state House and Senate. Consider this exchange between Cooper and CNBC after the network said Amazon should select multiple North Carolina markets as the home of Amazon’s planned HQ2 headquarters.
A CNBC reporter sat down with Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday to ask about (HB2 repeal). Cooper said moving beyond HB2 and his election a year ago demonstrates to the business, sports and entertainment sectors that North Carolina is a welcoming state.
“We’re sending a strong message we’ve taken a big step,” Cooper said. “That’s why these companies have come back on my assurances that North Carolina is moving in the right direction.”
My assurances? Absurd, of course. But look-ahead polling earlier this year suggests Democrats are eager to give Cooper and their 2018 candidates credit for, well, everything. Democrat enthusiasm is partially fueled by Donald Trump backlash.
In the May 18, 20-21, 2017 Civitas Institute Political Parties NC poll (N=600) — the most recent statewide poll — when asked, “If the election for North Carolina State Legislature were held today, would you be voting for the Republican candidate (32%), the Democratic candidate (47%), Neither one/Other/Independent (8%), or Don’t Know/Undecided/Need More Info (13%). These are the highest percentage for Democratic candidates (47%) for the State Legislature and the lowest percentage for the Republican candidates (32%) in the 34 polls conducted for Civitas since October 2010.
The stakes in 2018 are staggeringly high. That, too, is no secret.