Saturday, May 19, 2018

What I Learned This Semester From Teaching Presidential Politics and State & Local Politics


Having taught two courses this semester, one on State and Local Politics and the other on Presidential Politics, I came to the end of the semester with some thoughts that may intersect between the two topics: one about presidential "cycles," another about the demographic changes going on in our nation and in the Old North State, and the political polarization that we continue to experience. Based on a recent guest lecture to a civic group in Charlotte that brought these thoughts together, I thought I would share these ideas.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Deeper Look into NC's 9th Democratic Primary: Was There Reverse Drop-Off in Some Counties?

Today's post-primary blog piece raised some interesting questions, especially regarding the differences between the highly-competitive and charged Republican primary between Robert Pittenger and Mark Harris and what turned out to be a lop-sided Democratic primary between Dan McCready and Christian Cano in the Old North State's 9th Congressional District.

As it turned out, the Democratic primary attracted 45,660 votes across the eight counties that make up the 9th Congressional District, while the GOP 9th's primary attracted 35,494 votes. Some might interpret this difference to a higher energy level on the Democratic side than on the Republican side in the 9th district.

Below is the map of the 9th and the counties in it:

Looking back at Tuesday's NC Primary Election

Some thoughts on Tuesday's primary election in the Old North State:

The 9th Congressional District Republican contest lived up to the belief that it would be another competitive rematch between incumbent Robert Pittenger and Rev. Mark Harris. In 2016, when Pittenger secured the nomination with a 134 vote win over second-place Harris, there was a viable third candidate, Johnson, whose base was in, and he subsequently won, Union County. This year's contest did have a third candidate, but one who only generated 1,862 total votes, so the match was definitely between Pittenger and Harris.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Early Votes Are In--Now It's Down to Election Day Voting in NC's Primary Contests

Now that we have the early votes cast in North Carolina's primary election, a "whopping" 4 percent of the 6.9 million registered voters decided to cast their ballots before today's election.

Among the accepted early ballots, either cast by mail or in-person, Democratic primary ballots were the majority of the state's primary electorate, 59 percent to the GOP primary ballot being chosen by 41 percent of the voters. As a reminder: registered partisan voters can only vote in their party's primary (registered Democrats in the Democratic primary, while Republican registered voters can vote in the GOP primary only), but registered unaffiliated voters can pick one or the other party primary to cast their ballot.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

With a Week to Go Until NC's Primary Election, Where Are The Voters?

With a week to go before the May 8th primary election in the Old North State, voter turnout in early voting has been, to use a political sciencey-term, lackluster (and that's being kind).

According to the May 2nd NC State Board of Elections and Ethic Enforcement statistics, a little over 2 percent of the state's voters have requested ballots: 187,000 out of the 6.9 million registered active and inactive voters based on almost three weeks of early voting. This really isn't surprising, though, due to the fact that there is no major state-wide primary contest driving folks to the polls (thus, the 'blue-moon' election cycle that North Carolina tends to have every twelve years, with no gubernatorial (elected in presidential years) and no U.S. Senate contests).

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Urban vs. Suburban vs. Rural: Where's the Battleground?

In a discussion on WFAE's Charlotte Talks, I joined both Jonathan Kappler of the NC Free Enterprise Foundation and Dante Chinni of the American Communities Project to discuss the idea that in this year's mid-term elections, suburbs could be the electoral battleground fields.

I've done a lot of data investigating and researching into North Carolina's "regionalism" of urban vs. suburban vs. rural counties, but wanted to get a clearer picture of the national landscape and how the Old North State might line up, or be misaligned, to national patterns, especially when it comes to presidential voting patterns.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Democrats Target NC General Assembly Seats--But How Big A "Wave" Might Be Needed in November?

This week, the North Carolina Democratic Party released a "target list" of General Assembly districts for the fall general election. And while much has been made about an impending "blue wave" that can benefit Democrats and put Republicans on defense, the measurements for estimating the size of the wave is, at best, any pundit's guess at this point in the mid-term cycle.

One aspect that could give some clues as to the potential size of a "blue wave" is a baseline relationship between President Trump's performance in a legislative district and how it corresponds to the performance of the Republican candidate in the same legislative district. If the mid-terms are a referendum on the president's popularity (or lack thereof), using presidential performance as the baseline for a legislative district could give a sense of what Democrats would need to overcome the Republican-leanings of a district.

As I noted in a previous post, the relationship between Trump's performance and a GOP candidate's performance is pretty strong in North Carolina--partly meaning that Old North State voters aren't the "split ticket voters" that they once were.

So, as an example, in the 2016 election, one could graph President Trump's vote performance within the 13 congressional districts against each GOP congressional candidate's performance to see how close a relationship the Trump district vote was to the congressional candidate's vote: