Tag Archives: North Carolina

Apportionment Surprises


By Jim Ellis

April 28, 2021 — In virtually every 10-year apportionment announcement at least one surprise occurs, but the census unveiling Monday contained multiple blockbusters.

For example, two states had their final number of congressional districts determined by less than 90 people. Reportedly, if New York had just had 89 more people, that would have saved an Empire State congressional seat. Minnesota becomes the beneficiary allowing the state to barely hold its eighth district.

Instead of 10 seats changing states as had been forecast, only seven, affecting 13 domains, switched. Perhaps the main reason for the lower number is the decade population growth rate. According to yesterday’s final report, the nation grew at only a 7.4 percent rate, the lowest since the 1930 census’s 7.3 percent. By contrast, the population increase from the 2010 total was 9.7 percent.

Pre-census projections, for better than a year, had been predicting that Texas would gain three seats, Florida two, and Arizona one. The analysts also estimated seat losses for Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. None of these projections proved accurate.

On the other hand, prognostications for the balance of the map were accurate. Texas, and Florida did gain, but two and one, respectively, instead of three and two seats. Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each added one district apiece as expected. The one-seat losers were California, for the first time in history, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

It’s a bit too soon to determine which party will benefit the most from these numbers at the congressional level, though Republicans should be up slightly in the Electoral College for the next presidential campaign. Once we see how the population is distributed within the states will better tell us whether Democrats or Republicans will take the most advantage of the apportionment. This will depend upon how the population spreads through the cities, suburbs, and rural regions.

Continue reading

Major Senate Moves

By Jim Ellis

April 14, 2021 — With the Senate tied 50D-50R, and every 2022 campaign potentially meaning a change in majority status, we already see serious political moves being made or at least considered. This week began as being particularly active.

In the Last Frontier State of Alaska, 2020 Independent/Democratic nominee Al Gross, who opposed Sen. Dan Sullivan (R), confirms that he is considering challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) next year. The state’s new top four jungle primary system would virtually guarantee that both Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross would advance into the general election should both decide to run. For her part, Sen. Murkowski has not yet formally declared her 2022 political intentions, but she is expected to seek re-election.

Dr. Gross lost to Sen. Sullivan, 54-41 percent, despite exceeding the incumbent’s fundraising totals by almost a 2:1 margin. The Independent/Democrat spent over $19.5 million as compared to Sen. Sullivan’s expenditure total of $10.1 million. A total exceeding $27.2 million was expended from outside organizations, over $18 million of which aided Dr. Gross’ campaign.

Already announced is Republican former State Administrative Director Kelly Tshibaka; a Cygnal research firm survey of 500 Alaska registered voters taken in late March actually found her leading both Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross. The ballot test broke 34-19-18 percent in favor of Tshibaka with Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross significantly trailing. Under the new primary system, however, all three of these contenders, and a fourth candidate, would advance into the general election.

Former Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker, who lost the 2020 US Senate Democratic primary to party nominee Amy McGrath in a close 44-42 percent result, has filed an exploratory committee for purposes of assessing his chances against Sen. Rand Paul (R) in a 2022 campaign.

Booker was literally outspent 10:1 in the Democratic primary, as McGrath hauled in more than $20 million even before advancing into the general election. She never figured on having to spend so much to defeat her intra-party opponent, however. Booker was able to maximize his political base in Louisville and with the African American community statewide to pull within 15,149 votes of McGrath with more than 544,000 people casting ballots in the primary election.

Sen. Paul won his 2014 re-election campaign with a 57-43 percent margin over Lexington-Fayette Urban County Mayor Jim Gray (D), which is the second largest municipality in Kentucky. National Democrats were high on the Gray campaign at its outset, but the race never materialized in what became a landslide Republican election year.

Reports emanating from North Carolina suggest that former Gov. Pat McCrory (R) could declare his Senate candidacy as early as today. McCrory was elected governor in 2012 with a 55-43 percent margin but would lose his attempt at re-election by just 10,263 votes from more than 4.7 million ballots cast, or less than a quarter of a percent.

Largely entangled with the infamous North Carolina bathroom bill that became a national story, the governor could not steer himself clear of the controversy and fell to then-Attorney General Roy Cooper (D). McCrory had previously run for governor in 2008, losing to incumbent Bev Perdue (D) by just three percentage points. Prior to running statewide, McCrory served 14 years as Charlotte’s mayor.

Continue reading

More Redistricting Delays – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 17, 2021 — The Census Bureau announced just before the Presidents’ Day holiday break that there will be yet another long delay in transmitting the census data to the states. Without the new numbers, redistricting becomes unachievable.

The new target date is Sept. 30, postponed from their first postponement date of July 30. At this point, the postponed apportionment release date remains April 30, long after the statutory deadline of Jan. 1. Apportionment is the first critical step in the redistricting process since this informs the states how many congressional seats they will be awarded for the current decade.

The late September target (and there’s no guarantee even this date will be met) will make it difficult for many states to finish their redistricting on time, and could force the process into the courts if state legislatures are unable to convene or meet a legislative calendar in terms of allowing public input. Even now, at least several states will have to enact emergency legislation to change deadlines to avoid violating pre-existing legal redistricting deadlines.

The delays have already changed the political situation in New Jersey and Virginia. With both states having odd-numbered year state legislative elections, the two are always the first to receive their new census data. In both states, legislative elections will now proceed under the 2011 maps with previously enacted amendments. When the lines are eventually completed, it is possible that new elections, possibly for 2022, will be ordered in Virginia. New Jersey voters passed a referendum in November that allows redistricting to occur before the 2023 state legislative elections.

Another problem could be lawsuits filed against the eventual apportionment. Apparently, the principal problem for the delays is exactly which people to count and where they are placed. College students, for example, are typically counted at the university campus on which they reside. Now, however, so many are not attending in-person classes. Therefore, arguments are ongoing as to where this group should be counted, either at school or back at their primary residence.

Additionally, one of President Biden’s new executive orders reversed Trump Administration policies about whether or not to count non-citizens. This change of direction has also created further delays.

Based upon these controversies, and others, it is probable that at least one potential losing state – apparently Alabama is on the cusp of losing a seat but may not depending upon the counting criteria – could sue over the apportionment conclusion meaning even further delays as various potential lawsuits wind their way through the judicial process toward final determination. All of this could conceivably mean redistricting is postponed until the 2024 election cycle.

Continue reading

More Redistricting Delays

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 29, 2021 — The Census Bureau announced at mid-week yet another postponement in releasing the national apportionment figures, this time until April 30. Reapportionment should have been completed by Dec. 31, but the Bureau previously announced that March 6 would be the new release date due to COVID-related problems. Now, we see further delays.

Reapportionment is the process of creating a new census data algorithm in order to project the number of congressional seats each state will be awarded for the coming decade. It appears that 10-12 seats could change states, with the northeast and Midwest typically losing districts to southern and western states. This time, however, California, for the first time in history, is reversing their trend and appears headed for the losing list.

Once the apportionment numbers are known and the individual data dispersed, the states can begin the redistricting process. The Census Bureau further stated that individual states won’t be receiving their particular data necessary for redistricting until at least July 30. This will clearly set the redistricting cycle back significantly, which could cause major problems for the coming election cycle.

In the past, the Census Bureau has prioritized the states with early primaries to be first to receive their data. This meant that New Jersey and Virginia initially received their new population numbers ahead of the others because they have odd-numbered year state legislative elections. Texas and Illinois were next to receive since they traditionally schedule their regular primaries in March of the election year.

Knowing that the numbers would not be available for them in 2021, New Jersey and Virginia took preparatory action. Garden State officials placed a referendum on the November ballot asking voters for approval to postpone legislative redistricting until 2023. The measure passed.

The Old Dominion leaders decided they would run their 2021 state Delegate elections on the amended 2011 map but could conceivably call elections again for next year once they receive their updated data and can draw district boundaries. Virginia state senators do not stand for election until 2023, so it is unlikely the redistricting delay will affect those campaigns.

The data distribution and processing delay could place most legislatures in a conundrum. Most will be adjourned when the data is received, so special sessions will have to be called in most cases to complete the process prior to the 2022 candidate filing deadlines. This suggests that the states having redistricting commissions might prove to be in better position to complete the task because they won’t have to deal with legislative politics, priorities, or calendars, all of which result in a lengthy process.

Additionally, since almost every map is challenged in court, we could well see a plethora of lawsuits being filed late in the year that keep the redistricting process tied in figurative knots for months.

The states in the most difficult situations will be those gaining and losing congressional representation. Because the number of districts these particular states will have differ from their current allotments, they do not have the option of reverting to the current map once 2021 apportionment becomes final.

In the case of gainers and losers not having completed maps, we may see at-large races for the House. This would be particularly difficult for the losing states because we may see all members in the affected places having to run at-large for seats in their House delegations.

Unofficially, the gaining states appear to be Texas (3 seats), Florida (2), Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. The losers may be New York (possibly 2 seats), Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. Reports suggest that the closest developing situation concerns whether Alabama loses a seat or New York drops two.

President Biden’s executive order that mandates non-citizens be counted in the census will certainly affect the final data projections and may be another reason for this latest delay.

The only certainty about 2021 reapportionment and redistricting is the many moving parts in these various states will likely produce surprising political results.

Ohio Sen. Portman to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) surprisingly announced his retirement Monday.

Jan. 27, 2021 — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) surprisingly announced Monday that he will not seek a third term next year, opening the third Senate seat for the 2022 election cycle.

Addressing reporters at a news conference in Cincinnati yesterday, Sen. Portman said, “Our country’s polarized right now. It’s kind of shirts and skins. That makes it more difficult to find that common ground. Elected officials aren’t rewarded for that. What they’re rewarded for is throwing red meat to the talk show.”

The two-term senator indicated that the “partisan gridlock” is one of the reasons for his retirement. He further said in explaining his retirement decision, “we just keep pushing out to the right and to the left, there’s not going to be much left in the middle to solve the real problems we face.”

For the Republicans, they now have three big state open seats to defend as Sen. Portman joins Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey and North Carolina’s Richard Burr as incumbents who have already made their 2022 retirement plans public. Several others could be on the horizon.

Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will be 88 and 89 years of age, respectively, at the time of the next election, and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) originally took a two-term pledge when he was first elected in 2010. None of these three lawmakers have made their future political plans public to date, however.

Ohio, once a bedrock Republican state, developed a swing image beginning in 1992 when the state deserted GOP President George H.W. Bush and backed Democrat Bill Clinton. They did so again in 1996. In 2000 and 2004, Ohio returned to the Republican column awarding George W. Bush with its electoral votes. In 2008 and 2012, the Buckeye State ventured back to the Democratic side of the political ledger, supporting Barack Obama in both of his national elections.

Therefore, rather than being cast as a swing state during this 20 year period, Ohio may actually have been a microcosm of the national electorate since the state’s voters chose the winning candidate in each of the presidential elections during that time span, and had done likewise for the three previous decades.

Continue reading