The 10 Most Flippable NC Senate Districts in 2018

Last month, we posted our guide to the most flippable NC House Districts in 2018. This is our companion guide to the NC Senate.

Good news! The new maps for 2018 give Democrats an excellent chance to break the GOP supermajority in the NC Senate and, with a big enough blue wave, to even take back the majority.

Republicans currently hold 35 of the 50 seats in the NC Senate, which means Democrats need a net gain of 6 seats to break the supermajority and 10 seats to pull even. Below, we show the swing needed to flip the seat relative to Governor Cooper's performance in 2016.

Find the most critical targets in your area, and let’s get to work!

1. NC-S15 WAKE COUNTY (Raleigh), Partisan Lean: D+51

Roy Cooper would have won the new NC-S15 by over 50 points, so it should be an easy pickup for Democrats. Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D) was drawn into this district and will run in it. His former district, NC-S16, also remains strongly Democratic under the new maps.

2. NC-S41 - MECKLENBURG COUNTY (Western Charlotte suburbs), D+8

Roy Cooper, Hillary Clinton, and Josh Stein (NC Attorney General) each would have won the newly-drawn NC-S41 in 2016, making it a prime target for Dems in 2018. The district also overlaps with portions of three flippable NC House districts in Mecklenburg County (NC-H98, NC-H104, and NC-H105), doubling the impact of voter outreach efforts in many of its precincts and raising its strategic value for Democrats in 2018.

3. NC-S19 - CUMBERLAND COUNTY (Fayetteville), D-EVEN

The Court has ruled that Republicans illegally used race to draw NC-S19 – not just once but twice! After the second time, the Court ordered the district to be re-drawn by the independent Special Master, whose map is about 8 points more favorable to Democrats than the one proposed by the NC GOP. The new NC-S19 is slightly Democratic leaning and an excellent target for a Democratic pick up in 2018.

4. NC-S9 - NEW HANOVER COUNTY (Wilmington), D+2

While Hillary Clinton lost this district by about 8 points, Roy Cooper and Josh Stein both won it, suggesting that NC-S9 is winnable in 2018 with a focus on state and local issues. NC-S9 overlaps almost perfectly with two flippable NC House districts in the Wilmington area (NC-H19 and NC-H20), making it a great place for progressives to work on voter outreach in 2018.

5. NC-S27 - GUILFORD COUNTY (Western Greensboro suburbs), D+1

Under the new NC House map, Democrats should easily be able to flip one GOP-held NC House seat in Guilford County (NC-H61). Unfortunately, the other two GOP-held NC House seats in the county became even safer for Republicans. This makes NC-S27 the key race to target in Guilford County. The district leans slightly Republican but could easily flip Democratic in 2018 if we can get fired-up Democratic voters (registered Democrats and left-leaning independents) to the polls.

6. NC-S17 - WAKE COUNTY (Apex/Cary/Holly Springs), D-1

7. NC-S18 - WAKE/FRANKLIN COUNTIES (Wake Forest/Louisburg), D-2

NC-S17 and NC-S18 represent the places Democrats need to win in 2018 to flip six seats and break the supermajority in the NC Senate. The good news is that Roy Cooper and Josh Stein each lost these districts by only a hair, and both are trending blue. NC-S17 and NC-S18 also provide many opportunities to double – or even triple(!) – the impact of voter outreach efforts. Both districts fall almost entirely within US House District 2, one of the two top Congressional targets in the state, and overlap with some of the most flippable NC House districts: NC-S17 includes large portions of NC-H36 and NC-H37 in southern Wake County, and the majority of NC-H35 falls within the northern Wake County portion of NC-S18. All in all, there are over 40 precincts in these districts with competitive races at all three levels – NC House, NC Senate, and US House – making these portions of Wake County the most strategically important areas for voter engagement efforts in 2018.

8. NC-S13 - ROBESON/COLUMBUS COUNTIES (Lumberton/Whiteville), D-11

NC-S13 is traditionally a Democratic-leaning district that both Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper lost in 2016, largely because this area was still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew (which hit a month before the election). Josh Stein still managed to win the district in 2016, and Democratic candidates carried the district in the 2012 Presidential and Gubernatorial elections and the 2014 US Senate election, which bodes well for a Democratic comeback in 2018. The Robeson County portion of NC-S13 also overlaps with NC-H47, one of the most vulnerable Dem-held House seats, making this an important area for voter outreach efforts in 2018.

9. NC-S39 - MECKLENBURG COUNTY (SE Charlotte suburbs), D-5

10. NC-S7 - WAYNE AND LENOIR COUNTIES (Goldsboro/Kinston), D-9

The final two districts on our list represent the places Democrats must win in 2018 to break the majority in the NC Senate. Hillary Clinton performed relatively well in NC-S39, and this district is similar to the suburban districts that have been trending more Democratic in the 2017 elections in Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. NC-S39 also overlaps almost completely with three of the four flippable House districts in Mecklenburg County (NC-H103, NC-H104, and NC-H105), doubling the impact of voter outreach efforts across almost the entire district. Meanwhile, Josh Stein fared much better than Clinton in NC-S7, suggesting that a focus on state and local issues might be more effective there. With strong candidates and a solid blue wave, both districts are certainly within reach in 2018.

Learn more about how we determined which districts are flippable and how Roy Cooper and Hillary Clinton performed in each.

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The good news is that there are strategic targets across the state, including many areas with competitive races for both the NC House and NC Senate. The great news? We don’t need to change anyone’s mind to win big in 2018; we just need to get Democratic voters (registered Dems and left-leaning independents) to the polls. We need boots on the ground across the state – folks connecting with and encouraging voters to make their voices heard at the polls.

A major part of FLIP NC’s mission is supporting grassroots groups across the state that are eager to work on elections in their local areas. From Asheville to Charlotte to Greensboro to the Outer Banks, we’re hearing from many grassroots groups ready to start working on 2018 elections.

If your group would like to work on elections in 2018, let’s connect! You can reach us via email, Facebook, or Twitter. We can provide the support you need to start, build and sustain your efforts. We’ll help to identify the best places to work; provide training, materials, walk sheets and call lists; help to lead your first canvass; and be there with ongoing support. And check out our Toolkit, a comprehensive guide to strategic voter engagement in North Carolina.

This coalition is strong, and it’s growing. Join us, and let’s get to work!

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Check out our interactive maps, including our precinct-level map showing the NC House, NC Senate, and US House races that are flippable in each of the 2,704 precincts in NC.