The general consensus among professional political prognosticators has been that the congressional election to replace the retiring Sue Myrick would be a cakewalk for the Republican candidate Robert Pittenger.
But a recent poll of likely voters has the Democratic challenger Jennifer Roberts within the margin of error, down only one percentage point, in her bid for Congress.
Of 407 likely voters in the 9th Congressional District in mid-September, Pittenger leads Roberts only 38 percent to 37 percent, with a Libertarian candidate getting 3 percent of voters, according to the poll conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Roberts campaign. That leaves 22 percent still undecided going into the general election.
The district has long been a Republican-leaning area comprised of the rich suburbs of Charlotte that after redistricting now includes rural parts of Iredell and Union counties. Plaza Midwood, Elizabeth, Dilworth, Sedgefield and Myers Park are all part of the new district that hooks around the airport and goes up through Huntersville to Mooresville. And that’s mostly conservative turf.
But a divisive Republican primary that saw Pittenger stave off Jim Pendergraph in a runoff has perhaps opened the door for Roberts, who has gained popularity as an independent-minded problem solver.
The Roberts campaign finds the new numbers promising.
"Her name identification is low but favorability is high, so it gives us a path to victory as folks in the other counties get to know her," Roberts' campaign manager Henk Jonker said. "It will be tougher for [Pittenger]."