UPDATE II: Berger Jr. finishes with 17% fewer votes than he got in the primary. He does not seem to have worn well with people.
UPDATE Tues PM: Shows what I know --Walker is crushing Berger Jr. in a low-turnout race. So much for the establishment candidate's GOTV chops.
Given Berger Jr.'s association with the GOP powers-that-be in Raleigh, what if anything does this portend for Thom Tillis?
May my prediction below about November prove as accurate as the rest of the piece.
Over at the Style and Cut shop last week an old-school local conservative told me that he plans to vote for Mark Walker instead of Phil Berger Jr. because Berger Jr. is the machine's man and Walker just seems like, well, a better guy.
Not the first time I heard that as the race for the 6th district GOP nomination came down to the wire. Will those things be enough to win the race for Walker? I doubt it. My bet is that Berger Jr. wins tomorrow and goes on to win in November, even if some Walker voters hold a grudge against him. The 6th is just drawn that way -- the party-registration balance has shifted with its new borders, but that didn't slow Howard Coble down in 2012.
There's not much daylight between the two Republicans on the issues (I disagree with both of them strongly and often) so the barbershop logic could create an upset. Even those factors, though, won't necessarily break the insurgent's way.
Walker's anti-establishment vibe taps into the energy that helps propel the Tea Party movement and he appears to have the grassroots momentum, but Berger Jr. has the money and (presumably) GOTV machinery. Berger Jr.'s endorsement from the Beloved Incumbent is offset by Walker's blessing from BJ Barnes. I'd guess the insider/outsider game is a wash.
(Speaking of endorsements, I don't know how seriously John Hammer takes his theory about the N&R's 3-D chess game, but here outside the bubble the stuff Roy Carroll pays to publish sounds...weird.)
Personality can be a wild-card in politics, and the impact is hard to predict. Berger Jr. is not cuddly and his allies even less so, but maybe that's already baked into his profile. Walker has skated on some bad judgement because he's Not A PoliticianTM but if voters think he's down in the mud with Berger Jr., that's trouble.
Add it all up and I see Berger Jr. headed to DC.
May Laura Fjeld prove me wrong.