Category Archives: NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s Retirement Leaves a Competitive 2nd

North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 22, 2021 — As was suggested earlier in the week, 10-term North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) announced late last week that he will not seek re-election next year. He leaves a new 2nd District – his seat had been numbered NC-1 throughout his career – that will be more competitive in 2022.

Rep. Butterfield attacked the Republican-passed redistricting plan as a gerrymander on his way out and says the draw hurts African Americans in his district. He says that largely because an African American section of Pitt County was removed from the district, along with a small conservative county, and replaced with three larger and decidedly more Republican localities along the Virginia border.

North Carolina gained a seat in reapportionment, but the Butterfield seat was the only current Tar Heel State CD that needed to gain residents. The current 1st District was 58,205 individuals short of the state’s new population quota of 745,671 individuals per CD, so the map drawers had no choice but to add people. Virtually all of the surrounding counties are Republican.

The new 2nd District is certainly more competitive. While President Biden carried the current 1st District with a 54-45 percent margin, on par with Hillary Clinton’s 55-44 percent spread in 2016, the new 2nd District would have given Biden only a 51-48 percent vote split.

Though the new 2nd will be more competitive, the current 1st District was beginning to show signs of political change. This somewhat dispels Rep. Butterfield’s gerrymandering argument. While the previous eight elections delivered an average vote of 72.6 percent for Butterfield, his 2020 victory margin dropped to 54-46 percent opposite accountant and political activist Sandy Smith (R).

Though the state Supreme Court changed the North Carolina map for the 2020 election and basically awarded the Democrats two of the Republicans’ seats, the 1st was left largely unchanged. This suggests that the electorate could be transforming naturally, thus alternative reasons exist for the district becoming more conservative than simply altering the district lines.

We can expect to see competitive primaries in both parties, and things will quickly unfold now that the seat is open. Prior to the retirement announcement, Henderson City Councilman Jason Spriggs had announced a Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Butterfield but he was not rated as a serious challenge to the congressman.

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North Carolina’s Rep. Cawthorn Switching Districts in 2022

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2021 — With the newly enacted North Carolina congressional map being vetted and analyzed, candidates for the various districts are beginning to come forth. One surprising move is the decision from freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) to run in new District 13 instead of where his home and the majority of his current constituents reside, in new District 14.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn

Cawthorn, at at the age of 26, is the youngest member of Congress; he was elected to represent the 11th District in 2020, succeeding Mark Meadows, the former Trump chief of staff who left the US House to enter the White House. The 11th has traditionally been the number for the district that sits in the Tar Heel State’s far western corner, anchored in Asheville and nestled among the Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina borders, but the newly enacted congressional map changes its number to 14.

Though the seat in its present configuration has become strongly Republican, that was not always the case. Throughout the 1980’s the district became one of the most politically marginal CDs in the country. During that entire decade, the 11th switched repeatedly back and forth between Democrat James Clarke and Republican Billy Hendon.

Once businessman and former state legislator Charles Taylor defeated Rep. Clarke in 1990, he was able to hold the district for eight consecutive terms until losing in 2006 to Democrat Heath Shuler, the former star University of Tennessee quarterback and NFL player. Shuler represented the district for three terms before retiring, leading to Meadows winning the first of his four elections. Rep. Cawthorn then recorded a 55-42 percent win in 2020 to keep the seat in the Republican column.

The new iteration of the westernmost North Carolina district returns to a more politically marginal status with a statistical history producing Republican victories in the low 50s rather than the high 50s. The adjacent new open 13th District, which annexes the western part of the Charlotte metropolitan area and moves to the Buncombe County line, becomes the region’s new safe Republican seat.

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North Carolina Map Passes

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2021 –The North Carolina legislature passed a congressional redistricting map late last week featuring a new seat that pushes the state to a 14-member delegation, but court challenges are again inevitable.

Under North Carolina law, the governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over redistricting. Therefore, when the map cleared both legislative chambers, the plan became law.

The Tar Heel State legislature and the courts have battled over redistricting for most of the previous decade, with the judiciary changing the legislature’s maps no fewer than three times during that 10-year period.

The last court iteration, in which the Democratic controlled state Supreme Court added two Democratic seats at the GOP’s expense, created safe districts for their party in Raleigh and Greensboro. The effect transformed the delegation’s partisan division to eight Republicans and five Democrats.

Under the legislature’s new 2021 version, the members returned to the previous GOP model for the Greensboro area, while largely keeping the Democratic draw for central Raleigh. Though political data is not yet available for the 14 new districts, estimates suggest that the new plan will yield 10 Republican seats and four Democratic districts, at least for the 2022 election cycle.

With a March 8, 2022 primary and candidate filing opening in about a month on Dec. 6, it will be difficult to move quickly through the court process to stop the map before officially beginning the election cycle.

The new map displaces several members and is another example of the map drawers changing the district numbers, thus making it more difficult to make comparisons. The members most negatively affected are Reps. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), and Richard Hudson (R-Concord).

The Manning district currently covers all of Guilford County, including the cities of Greensboro and High Point, and moves west into Forsyth County to annex the city of Winston-Salem. The court’s 2020 draw was split four ways, giving Rep. Manning the choice of approximately four immediate districts in which she could run, all of which are Republican. Therefore, it appears at first glance without the aid of political data that she would have to choose among four bad options in order to attempt to continue her congressional career.

Rep. Foxx, who currently represents a western North Carolina 5th District that stretches from Virginia to South Carolina would now see her new 11th CD begin in the western mountains and stretch easterly along the Virginia border and south into the city of Greensboro. This may be a relatively Republican district, but the addition of Democratic Greensboro clearly changes the district’s complexion and takes Foxx into a region that she has not represented over her nine terms in Congress.

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North Carolina – A Different Take

North Carolina’s 12 Congressional Districts

    By Jim Ellis

    Aug. 19, 2021 — Based upon the 2019 census estimates, it appeared that the new North Carolina congressional seat was bound for the Charlotte area, but the actual 2020 census figures released late last week may be suggesting a different location.

    In looking at the current 13 congressional districts, all but Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s (D-Wilson) 1st District must shed population, hence the reason North Carolina was awarded a new seat. While the census estimates found Rep. Alma Adams’ (D-Charlotte) 12th District being the state’s most over-populated CD, the actual census data finds another district moving beyond the resident number that the Adams’ seat must shed (159,818) in order to reach the state’s target population figure of 745,671 individuals.

    The new data find that freshman Rep. Deborah Ross’ (D-Raleigh) 2nd District is the state’s largest, housing 165,703 people over the state’s new per CD quota. Additionally, neighboring Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill), whose 4th District also contains part of Raleigh’s Wake County, also must shed a large number (129,692).

    Looking at the neighboring districts in the Charlotte area, the 8th and 9th CDs of Reps. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) and Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), along with one county from Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-Banner Elk) western 5th District, means that the Charlotte area’s population surplus is approximately 250,000, while the Raleigh districts are over-populated by a slightly larger approximate figure of 300,000 people.

    In the east, the Butterfield district is short just 6,238 people and neighboring Rep. Greg Murphy’s (R-Greenville) 3rd District must shed 10,979 individuals, meaning a relatively simple swap between these two seats and a sliver from a third, most likely Rep. David Rouzer’s (R-Wilmington) 7th District, will easily bring these seats into balance.

    The western sector is also relatively well defined. Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-Hendersonville) 11th District sits in the Tar Heel State’s far western corner. It needs to shed 22,890 people, but can only go one way, east, because this district is bordered on three sides by South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Therefore, Reps. Cawthorn, Foxx, and Patrick McHenry’s (R-Lake Norman) 10th CD all shedding relatively small population segments to the east should also be a relatively easy population balancing exercise.

    This suggests the new seat could be placed in the region between Raleigh and Charlotte, meaning those existing districts that lie between the two metropolitan areas – those of Hudson, Bishop, and Rep. Ted Budd’s (R-Advance) open 13th District, in addition to the severely over-populated seats of Reps. Adams, Ross, and Price – will likely see the greatest change.

    This brings us to the Republican-controlled state legislature and how they might draw the new congressional map. In North Carolina, the governor has no veto power over redistricting, so Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will not be a factor in how the congressional and NC House and Senate maps are constructed. Republicans gained four seats in the state House in 2020 bringing their majority to 69-51. In the state Senate, Democrats added a net one seat thus lessening the GOP majority to 28-22. Therefore, the Republican leadership is in the driver’s seat.

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New Seat Location in North Carolina

North Carolina’s 12 Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

May 21, 2021 — With the new reapportionment map public and the states gaining congressional districts now certain, we can begin to speculate where the new CDs might land. Today, we look at North Carolina, which continues to be one of the most important states from a national redistricting perspective.

The Census Bureau’s apportionment report, released on April 26, almost five months after their Jan. 1 deadline, contained the smallest transfer of congressional seats since the World War II era.

Just seven seats are moving from one state to another. As mentioned above, one of the recipients is North Carolina, the state that came the closest to gaining in the last census, missing by just a few thousand people. Today, we speculate as to how a new North Carolina congressional map might unfold.

The 2020 individual state population data has not yet been distributed and is not expected until October, apparently at the earliest. Once the specific state data is made public, the redistricting process can begin, but for now we can only use the latest available data (July 2019) for estimation purposes.

In examining the population numbers for each of the 13 current North Carolina congressional districts, we see that all must shed population to reach the state’s Census Bureau target number of 746,711 individuals, hence, the reason for the Tar Heel State gaining a new district.

In North Carolina, the state legislature has sole jurisdiction over redistricting. The governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over the maps both houses jointly produce. This means the Republicans will control the process since they hold majorities in both the state House and Senate.

No matter what map is drawn, we can count on seeing post-redistricting litigation. In the previous decade, the courts twice altered the original map because of various lawsuits. The final iteration broke 8-5 in favor of the Republicans after the state Supreme Court redrew sections of the state and in effect awarded two previously Republican seats in Raleigh and Greensboro, respectively, to the Democrats.

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