North Carolina Senate Odds: Democratic Primary, Republican Primary, General Election

Written By Evan Scrimshaw on August 17, 2021
North Carolina Senate Odds

One of the most interesting Senate races in 2022 is the race for the Tar Heel state, where Democrats are trying to gain the seat currently held by a retiring Republican incumbent. This open race in the closest Trump-won state in the nation has led to a rare situation, where both primaries and the general election are competitive – and therefore, full of betting intrigue in the North Carolina Senate odds.

Because of that fact, let’s dig in.

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North Carolina Senate Odds: Democratic Primary

CandidatePredictit PriceEquivalent Odds
Cheri Beasley$0.64-178
Jeff Jackson$0.35+186
Erica Smith$0.03+3233
Heath Shuler$0.02+4900
Richard Lee Watkins$0.01+9900

Democratic Primary Analysis

The Democratic Primary is a mostly two-horse race, with former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court Cheri Beasley facing off against a sitting State Senator in Jeff Jackson. Beasley, the first African-American Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, has the endorsements of the Congressional Black Caucus’ PAC and from EMILY’s List – two endorsements that are not in and of themselves surprising, but they are important. Democratic primary voters are more likely to be Black and more likely to be female than the general electorate. So endorsements (and presumably financial backing closer to the primary date) are valuable currency.

Jackson’s case rests on the notion of electability more than anything. The notion exists amongst some that Jackson would be able to substantially outrun the state’s consistent Republican lean, and that makes him the right candidate for North Carolina. If this argument were persuasive, it might very well find a home in the Democratic Party. After all, that was the reason Democratic primary voters elected Joe Biden in 2020 despite a campaign that was lackluster up to the South Carolina primary. Democratic primary voters are pragmatic, and if Jackson could make a solid electability argument he would be in a solid spot.

The problem for Jackson, and the reason Beasley’s 64-cent price on PredictIt is so attractive, is that Jackson has no institutional backing, and no actual, logical case for his nomination. He’s a candidate who under ran Joe Biden by 7% in his State Senate district. So the argument that Democrats should nominate a candidate who can outrun state partisanship should actually fall to Beasley, who lost by 401 votes in her 2020 bid for a full term as Chief Justice while Biden lost the state by 74k votes. Beasley is not quite a lock, but barring some massive shakeup of the primary, she is the heavy favorite to be the Democratic nominee.

2024 Presidential Nominee Odds

North Carolina Senate Odds: Republican Primary

CandidatePredictit PriceEquivalent Odds
Ted Budd$0.71-245
Pat McCrory$0.24+317
Mark Walker$0.03+3233
Richard Burr$0.01+9900
Lara Trump$0.01+9900
Dan Forest$0.01+9900
Mark Meadows$0.01+9900
Mark Robinson$0.01+9900

Republican Primary Analysis

Ted Budd is the overwhelming favorite here, a sitting Congressman who has the most valuable currency in Republican politics these days – an endorsement from the former President. With the Trump endorsement, delivered at a rally in the state, Budd shot up to the 71 cent price he currently sits at, and is widely expected to win the primary in the state. He isn’t running against weak competition, either, in the form of Pat McCrory. McCrory is running again, the former Governor who lost his reelection in 2016 due in large part to backlash against the state’s anti-trans legislation (and the subsequent economic hits, including losing the NBA All-Star Game), and while he is understandably the underdog, it is probably the case that his 24-cent price undersells his position.

McCrory, whatever the impacts of that past history might do to his prospects in the general election, does not find himself at odds with his party because of his past controversy. Bills similar to the ones the North Carolina GOP passed that cost McCrory the Governorship are now passing with regularity, and McCrory has conservative bonafides, both from that saga and his past work. He is a staunch conservative who signed legislation to limit abortion access while Governor, and eliminated other anti-discimination ordinances protecting gay North Carolinians. He has a track record of views firmly in line with his primary electorate, and name recognition and fundraising advantages over Budd. And yet, the Trump endorsement ended the race for many. That assumption is a mistake.

It might be fair to say Budd is the favorite, but McCrory is a clear value at the depressed price available.

North Carolina Senate Odds: General Election

CandidatePredictit PriceEquivalent Odds

General Election Analysis

The GOP understandably start the General Election as favorites, given the 0-7 record Democrats have in winning Presidential or Senatorial races in the state since the Barack Obama-Kay Hagan sweep in 2008. The case for them as favorites is easy to make.

They’ve won every statewide election for a federal office in the last 11 years, and with the expected midterm penalty being expected to hurt Democratic chances of making many gains in 2022, they should hold this seat, if not by the biggest margins. The problem is, just because the case is easy to make, doesn’t mean it is correct.

Republicans won in the state in large part because Democratic turnout amongst African-Americans didn’t match the surge in Trump supporting whites in the rural and regional areas of the state, which was consistent with the surges nationally. What we saw in the Georgia runoffs, which was also consistent with the 2018 midterms, is that these voters do not turn out in the same numbers when Donald Trump is not on the ballot. Trump isn’t going to be on the ballot in 2022.

Can the GOP get their turnout up without Trump? It’s possible, but not exactly a safe bet.

What about the Democratic side of that equation? Democrats won the state in 2008 in large part because of high Black turnout, which has atrophied in recent years as NC Democrats have run a succession of white candidates in the post-Obama era. A Black Democrat gives the party the best shot of boosting Black turnout, both in the cities of North Carolina and the rural Black areas, as we also saw in Georgia with Raphael Warnock.

Beasley, if she’s the nominee, would give Democrats a clear and coherent path forward, which while not the same thing as a guaranteed victory for the party obviously, is a proposition worth exploring.

Democrats are more likely to win than their 37 cent price indicates, and while it is still probably true that the GOP are slightly more likely to win independent of odds, Democrats are much more likely to pay off at a value that justifies their selection.

2022 Midterm Election Odds and Senate Betting Guides

Read more political wagering articles from Evan Scrimshaw here.


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