Monday, August 6, 2018

A Deeper Exploration of North Carolina's Urban/Suburban/Rural Voters

Much has been written about the "regional" divide in American politics, between urban, suburban, and rural areas of the nation and in the states. In a recent study by the Pew Research Center on what unites and divides these three regions, the partisan leanings of all three areas show that urban and rural areas have the greatest differences between the two (urban = more Democratic, while rural = more Republican), with suburbs being an almost even split between the partisans:

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/05/22/what-unites-and-divides-urban-suburban-and-rural-communities/psd_05-22-18_community-type-00-01/
The political closeness of suburban areas in the nation has lead some to question whether Republicans can hold on to their majorities in this year's mid-term election, especially in the U.S. House. But while some believe that North Carolina has been trending more like the nation in recent elections, the regional differences are rather distinct to the Old North State than the United States.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

North Carolina "Party-Switchers" So Far In 2018

Included in the wealth of data provided by the NC State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement is a spreadsheet containing information on voters who have changed their party registration so far in 2018.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Where Is The Uproar Over Charlotte's #RNC2020 Bid Coming From?

With the pending decision by the Charlotte City Council on whether to formalize the bid for hosting the Republican National Committee's 2020 Presidential Nominating Convention causing a great deal of controversy in the Queen City, it might be good to step back and see the transition that Charlotte has undergone, and continues to do so, in its political behavior and how its politics, especially at the presidential level, is playing out.

First, a word about the methodology used for the below illustrative maps: for a while, I have adapted Charlie Cook's Partisan Voter Index, or PVI, to illustrate how precincts vote in comparison to the national performance of the presidential candidates. So, for example, if a presidential candidate received 52 percent of the national vote, and a precinct voted for that same candidate with 57 percent of the vote, that precinct would be a "+5" to that presidential candidate's party.

Thus, one can assign a "score" of plus whichever party in comparison to the party's national performance. For each presidential election since 2004, I have taken Mecklenburg County's precinct votes, compared them to each presidential performance, and then averaged the 2004-08, 2008-12, and 2012-16 results, with the following coding scheme:

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Half-Way Through 2018, NC's Voter Registration Creeps to 7M

Now that we're half-way through 2018, the North Carolina registered voter pool slowly creeps towards 7 million active and inactive voters. As of July 7, 2018, 6,962,898 voters were on the roll, an increase of nearly 125,000 since the beginning of the year.

Among the patterns of registration since the beginning of 2018, unaffiliated registrations have been the significant plurality, while Democratic registrations lead Republican registrations. At the end of the first six months of 2018, 45 percent of new voters registered as unaffiliated, with 30 percent Democratic and 24 percent Republican.


Of the 6.9 million voters, the overall party registration percentages breaks down to 38 percent registered Democrats, 31 percent registered unaffiliated, and 30 percent registered Republican. The other party registrations--Libertarian, Green, and the Constitution parties--are one percent of the total.

In looking at a variety of ways of breaking down the state's voter pool, I break it down by race, generational cohorts, gender, and region (urban, suburban, and rural counties), along with a focus on two congressional districts that may be in play in this year's mid-term election.

Monday, June 25, 2018

NC's Partisan Gerrymandering Kicked Back by SCOTUS to Reconsider "Standing"

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued an order vacating the decision by the Middle District of North Carolina regarding the district court's findings of partisan gerrymandering by the North Carolina General Assembly of the congressional district map (known as Rucho v. Common Cause), and remanding the case back to the Middle NC District Court to consider the decision by SCOTUS in the Wisconsin redistricting case of Gill v. Whitford, announced a few weeks ago. In Gill, SCOTUS vacated the lower's court's previous decision in finding an unconstitutional gerrymandering by the Wisconsin legislature, and asked for reconsideration of the "standing" of the plaintiffs in the case.

Monday, June 11, 2018

In Our Polarized Era, Are We More "Warm" or "Cold" Towards Our Presidential Candidates?

In preparing for a special topics class next year on "Polarization in American Politics," I'm working through a set of books this summer, beginning with James E. Campbell's "Polarized: Making Sense of American Politics." It is a well-written and easy read, both in-depth and broad in its questions and Campbell's answers about polarization in our politics, and fits nicely in my thinking about the course. I'll likely assigned it after the students read Morris Fiorina's "Culture War? The Myth of Polarized America" and Alan Abramowitz's "The Polarized Public: Why American Government is So Dysfunctional," which serve as the "polarized opposites" in the controversy over political polarization in America.

There are many testable and intriguing questions to further explore polarization from Campbell's book, but one that struck me was on page 210, where Campbell notes that in 2004's American National Election Studies survey, only 62 percent of voters who were "relatively cool" to their party's candidates turned out to vote, while those who were "hotly enthusiastic" about their party's candidates had a turnout rate of 86 percent. Campbell measured "cool" and "hot" via a "feeling thermometer" that ANES has asked in its various surveys of the American electorate. In asking respondents to the ANES studies, the interviewer would describe the thermometer, which goes from 0 for "cold" to 100 for "hot," in the following way:

"If you don't feel particularly warm or cold toward a person, then you should place (that person) in the middle of the thermometer, at the 50 degree mark. If you have a warm feeling toward (the person) or feel favorable toward (the person), you would give ... a score somewhere between 50 degrees and 100 degrees. On the other hand, if you don't feel very favorable toward a person--that is, if you don't care for (them) too much--then you would place (that person) somewhere between 0 degrees and 50 degrees." 

In his study, Campbell uses the ranges of below 59 as "cool" towards the individual and above 80 as being "hotly enthusiastic." But he only cites the 2004 ANES study for his evidence in regards to turnout. As I was reading this section, I thought about whether we would see any trends over time and, if so, what differences there were in the "coolness" or "hotness" by voters and partisan identifiers towards presidential candidates, using Campbell's coding for the feeling thermometers.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

North Carolina's Registered Voter Pool Nearly Reaches 7 Million

As of June 2, 2018, there was nearly 7 million registered voters in the Old North State, a one percent increase since the beginning of 2018.

The state's party registration percentages have held steady since the middle of February, when registered unaffiliated voters claimed the second largest voter registration block (31 percent) in the state, with registered Democrats still at the top (38 percent) and registered Republicans in third place (30 percent). The newest addition to the party registration is the Green Party, with a little over 200 voters so far registering with the new party. The U.S. Constitution Party will be the newest addition to the voter rolls, with their recent approval by the NC State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.