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:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My View on Polarization in American Politics

On Wednesday, April 11, I will be a panelist at Charlotte Preparatory School's Parent Partnership Event on "Parenting in the Age of Political Divisiveness." In doing some work to gather my thoughts for this much needed conversation, I decided to review two key perspectives about this notion of polarization: whether it exists in a comprehensive level in our nation's politics, or whether it only exists at the elite level, and not in the broader political environment.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A Generational & Party Trend of New NC Voters in 2018

I spoke with a reporter today regarding the trend of younger voters and the expectation of how many new voters could come from younger Americans, and in particular, North Carolinians.

One estimate given was that 186,000 new young voters could register this year in the Old North State. Having completed a recent analysis of the latest NC voter registration data file, I decided to look at the new voters since the beginning of 2018 through the end of March by generation and party registration within the youngest voters' generations (Gen Z are 18-21 years old, while Millennials are 22 to 37 years old).

First, Generation Z voters since the beginning of the year:

Thinking about Voter Turnout & Data

In a recent McClatchy article on the challengers to U.S. Representative Alma Adams (D), who represents the 12th Congressional District based solely in Mecklenburg County, the issue of who represents a "generational change" agent has become a target to the congresswoman.

In the article, the reporter uses NC State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement age ranges to describe the voters in the 2017 general election for the City of Charlotte:

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April's Analysis of North Carolina Registered Voter Pool

While April 1 lands on a Sunday, the latest North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement data, posted on Saturday, March 31, gives information about the 6.9 million registered voters in the state.

First, the state's political party registration among these voters breaks down as 38 percent registered Democrat, 31 percent registered unaffiliated, 30 percent registered Republican, 1 percent registered Libertarian, and 0.000004 percent (or, 3 voters) who have registered with the recently approved Green Party in the Old North State.

Among the five different generational cohorts, the party registration continues to demonstrate a trend among younger voters to opt to registered unaffiliated:

Friday, March 30, 2018

Another Aspect of NC's Shifting Politics: Natives vs. Non-Natives

I was interviewed, along with Dr. Rebecca Tippett, with the Carolina Population Center and director of Carolina Demography, about the recent news from the U.S. Census Bureau regarding North Carolina's population and the shifting dynamics from urban counties to suburban counties, as documented in this great map graphic from the Greensboro News & Record:

Courtesy of the Greensboro News & Record
Courtesy of the Greensboro News & Record

Much of the population change for the state has occurred due to migration into the state; per estimates by the Carolina Population Center, nearly half, or 43 percent, of the Old North State's population were born out of state.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Analysis of North Carolina Voters by Gender

With discussions of how women may be a deciding factor in the 2018 mid-term elections, and in concluding Women's History Month, I decided to do another deep data dive, this time into the gender differences within North Carolina's registered voter pool.

My research interests in the Old North State's politics tend to focus on how North Carolina's voter pool is experiencing two "tectonic" shifts: one based on generational cohorts (those voters under the age of 37, who constitute the Millennial and Generation Z cohorts, versus those voters over the age of 37, who make up Generation X, Baby Boomer, and Silent/Greatest generations), while the other shift is the urban/suburban/rural divide in the Old North State.  This analysis uses these two characteristics to divide the active and inactive registered voters, with a focus on gender.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Exploring the Youth Vote

With the impressive numbers of young people in the past weekend's #MarchForOurLives and the mobilization due to the Parkland shooting, much has been made about whether this is an awakening, like the #MeToo movement, of young people and how they will respond, especially if they register to vote when they turn 18 years old and then actually show up to cast ballots in November.

Much of the research about youth turnout at the ballot box notes that rates of voting among younger votes has been significantly lower than older voters. But with the apparent energy and potential mobilization effect, young voters could see a higher turnout rate this November, due to the apparent energy and potential mobilization effect, along with a significant disapproval of the president (and mid-term elections tend to be referendums on the president and his party).

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Is It Time for Republicans to Panic? The Winds Are Definitely Blowing...


The Democratic wave crashed into Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district, and Republicans have begun the appropriate stage in a mid-term election year that's moving against them: in a phrase, "batten down the hatches."

In a leaked e-mail from the NC State House GOP political director, the "predictions" were that if North Carolina experienced a similar wave as the one that occurred in Pennsylvania, Democrats would not only capture the lower chamber of the General Assembly, but have super-majority status. Needless to say, Democrats are making hay of the e-mail.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Deep Dive into the Demographic Dynamics of NC's Districts: Volume 3--NC's State House

With the previous posts on congressional and state senate districts, I looked at the voters within each district and utilized five categories to classify: percentage of party registration, racial and ethnicity, regionalism, generations, and gender. This post wraps up the series with a deep dive into the North Carolina State House districts, all 120. Needless to say, with that many districts, I'll be putting the numbers and the percentage tables at the end of the piece, with analysis to follow. The analysis is only based on the demographic numbers and percentages; candidate quality (incumbent, challenger, etc.) is not taken into account.

The current map, as has been challenged through several lawsuits, shows the following district lines, with Republicans controlling 76 seats out of the 120 in the chamber:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Deep Dive into the Demographic Dynamics of NC's Districts: Volume 2--NC's State Senate

In the previous post, I looked at the dynamics of voter registration within North Carolina's 13 congressional districts. This post begins a two-part review and analysis of the state's General Assembly districts, first with the 50 districts in the state senate. With much of the attention being paid to NC's congressional districts in this "blue-moon" election cycle, the state legislative races will command state-wide attention, with the Democrats attempting to at least break the Republican's super-majority numbers in both chambers.

The map of the most recently approved upper chamber districts:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Exploring Evangelicals in 2016's Election: Partisanship Divided The Flock

I found this article on "A Quiet Exodus: Why Blacks Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches" to be an interesting exploration of the controversies surrounding evangelicalism in today's political environment.

In particular, Michael Emerson, co-author of "Divided by Faith", a study that explored the racial relations within the evangelical movement, said in the article:

"Everything we tried is not working. ... The election itself was the single most harmful event to the whole movement of (racial) reconciliation in at least the past 30 years,” he said. “It’s about to completely break apart.”
Much has been made about the support by most white evangelical voters to President Trump. In fact, one of the president's evangelical advisory board members said recently:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Deep Dive into the Demographic Dynamics of NC's Districts: Volume 1--Congressional

In a previous post, I noted that the dynamics that both Democrats and Republicans were going into with this year's mid-term elections would be based on both demographic, partisan, and regional aspects. This blog post dives deeper into the legislative districts, since the Old North State is experiencing is "once in a blue moon" election cycle with no marquee state-wide race, such as U.S. Senate or governor's contest (a reminder: NC governors are elected in presidential years, unlike many chief executives in the states).

In analyzing the congressional (this post) and state legislative districts (next post), I draw upon the March 3, 2018 data "download" from the NC State Board of Elections of the over 6.8 million active and inactive voters on the rolls. Using this information, I can draw out the various dynamics (party registration, race, age/generation, region, etc.) to analyze and see what trends are evident in the numbers of voters. Of course, these numbers will change/shift between now and November's general election, but this will set a baseline of sorts for future analysis of the voter pool.

First, looking at the state's congressional districts, which look like this (and may still change, thanks to a variety of lawsuits over the districts):

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Regional Bases and Dynamics of North Carolina's Political Parties


Over at Long Leaf Politics blog, Andrew Dunn took a look at where North Carolina Democrats were focusing their time for the upcoming mid-term elections: while Democrats hope that the suburbs would be battleground to break the Republican's supermajorities in the state's General Assembly, Andrew writes that "any scenario in which the Dems wield any real power statewide requires them to make inroads into rural North Carolina as well." 

In looking at the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections by the state's regional classification (as determined by the U.S. Office of Management & Budget for urban, suburban, and rural counties), while Democratic presidential candidates are strongest in urban counties (which represent 54 percent of the votes cast), the change from 2012 to 2016 showed a widening gap between the parties' presidential candidates in both suburban and rural counties:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Generational Turnout in North Carolina

On Twitter, in a thread following the release of a new Pew Research Center analysis on the Millennial generation and the "generation gap" in American politics, I was asked about the turnout rates for that generation in comparison to older cohorts (Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Greatest/Silent generations). Having worked with data from the NC State Board of Elections, it's relatively easy to perform this analysis for the Old North State, based on elections since 2008.

In using voter registration files from the general election years and merging those records with data on voters who cast ballots in election years, the following analysis shows not just the turnout rates for each generation in an election year, but also each generation's composition within the voter registration pool and the actual electorate of voters casting ballots. The respective ages of each cohort in each election year are:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Generational Partisanship (or Why Millennials May Not Save Us from Partisan Loyalty and Polarization)

As many may have realized by now (by reading some of my previous posts), I've become very interested in the generational dynamics underway in American politics, and particularly in North Carolina (through voter registration figures and analyses). But voter registration only tells part of the story--a companion aspect to our political environment is voting "behavior," especially about voters' party self-identification and supporting presidential candidates, when it can be a driving force of our partisanship and polarization.

In trying to better understand the partisanship and potential polarization coming from party identification in our nation, along with the generational dynamics that are happening (especially with the rising Millennial generation), I ran a series of analyses using survey data from the American National Elections Studies (ANES) to investigate the following questions:
  • Are Americans really moving into political independence with the "rise of the independent" or are we seeing another phenomenon, especially when it comes to voting behavior of these independents?
  • What have been the trends in recent presidential elections when it comes to partisan self-identification and presidential vote choices among the four generations in the American electorate?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Hear that? It's Millennials and Gen Zers Taking Over NC's Voter Pool

In my 2017 year-end analysis, I thought that voters under the age of 37--Millennials and Generation Z voters--would eventually become the largest voter bloc in North Carolina's voter registration pool, but I wasn't sure when that would happen.

Well, as of Monday, February 5, 2018, it happened.

As We Entering NC's "Blue-Moon" Mid-term Election, What Are The Trends In Registered Voter Turnout Come November?

With attention now turning to November's mid-term election, questions are being raised about voter turnout in the first "referendum" of the Trump Republican government. And while North Carolina won't have a major state-wide race (such as a U.S. Senate or gubernatorial contest) on its fall ballot, the prospects for Republicans holding their current 10-3 congressional advantage and their super-majorities within the general assembly are already surfacing.

In general, mid-term elections are considered "referendums" on the party in power, especially the party that controls the White House. With Republicans controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress (a nominal majority in the U.S. Senate, however, but lacking absolute control of the upper chamber due to the 60 vote cloture rule), the focus through 2018 will be on the GOP and whether voters seek to continue unified party government, or whether the "checks and balances" will come with Democrats claiming one, or perhaps both, congressional chambers.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Exploring Partisanship & Party Loyalty from 1952 to 2016

Much has been made about the role of partisanship in American politics: some call it "tribalism" in the sense that party loyalty drives most views and actions, especially when it comes to voting behavior at the presidential level. And while some believe that the "political independents" can save us (and point to rising numbers in polls that show "independents" are now the largest bloc of voters), the sense of party loyalty has been evident even among these 'faux' independents.

In looking at data from the American National Election Studies from 1952 to 2016, I wanted to get a better sense of how these trends--the perceived rise of independents, as well as the potential rise or decline of partisanship and party loyalty--has been recorded in presidential election years.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Another Significant Court Case Dealing with NC's Congressional Districts

Never underestimate that a major news story can break while you are cooking dinner--which is what happened this evening.

A federal three-judge district court panel for the Middle District of North Carolina issued a 190 page opinion striking down the 2016's congressional district maps drawn by state legislative Republicans. In the past, the factor that drew the court's ire was race, but this time, the judges took square aim at partisan gerrymandering and ruled the 10-3 GOP-favor maps unconstitutional. To summarize, this is a significant opinion that may likely determine how partisanship reigns, or doesn't, in the future of American politics. Here are the highlights of the opinion, based on a Tweet thread that I posted, and a little background:

Monday, January 8, 2018

Gallup Finds 42% are Politically "Independent" (But It's Not Really 42%)

It's time once again, when folks will point to today's Gallup Poll findings that in 2017, "42% of Americans, on average, identified as political independents, erasing the decline to 39% seen in the 2016 presidential election year." This will be heralded as the continued demise of political parties, when it comes to partisan identification, and calls will be brought forth for "see, it's time for a third party!"

Thursday, January 4, 2018

North Carolina's "Blue Moon" Election Cycle and Its Congressional Contests

With North Carolina entering its "blue moon" mid-term election cycle (meaning that, with the exception of a few judicial contests, no major state-wide race (for example, a U.S. Senate or gubernatorial contest) will be on the ballot this year in the Old North State), so the focus for Tar Heel political observers will generally be on the legislative districts, both congressional and state house and senate. For this analysis, I'll be focusing on the thirteen congressional districts in the state and their dynamics internally when it comes to voter registration at the beginning of 2018.

First, some general context for whenever we talk about mid-term elections and what we know from the past; and yes, I understand, very acutely, that some of the "rules" that we (political scientists and historians) know from the past have been either "bent" or "broken" when it comes to this current political environment. However, since we don't have anything else to rely upon when it comes to investigating and trying to understand this environment until the actual election, we need to stick with some of the basic principles that have shaped our politics, especially when focusing on mid-term elections.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Some deeper dives into NC's registered Millennial Voters

As a follow-up to the previous post, I thought about the division among race and gender when it comes to North Carolina's Millennial registered voters, and broke out the 2 million registered voters under the age of 35 as of the December 30, 2017 voter registration file, courtesy of the North Carolina Board of Elections.

First, the overall trend lines for registered Millennial and the first members of Generation Z since 1999 and their party registration:


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Investigating Millennials & Generation Z in North Carolina's Voter Pool

Based on yesterday's blog post, I decided to dig deeper into the Millennial (those born between 1981 and 1997) and the newest generation, Generation Z (those born in and after 1998), registered voter in North Carolina to see:

First, some broad national understanding of the Millennials and Generation Z: the Pew Research Center has an excellent series on research and analysis of these two generations. As someone who has watched these trends for some time, I believe these generations will have a tectonic shift on the country's (and thus the Old North State's) political environment and dynamics.

The following national data comes from the 2016 American National Election Study (ANES), which you can find the data and do your own number crunching via this webpage.

First, to give some context to the NC registration figures that I'll present below, I looked at the electorate breakdowns by generations within the 2016 ANES Data. For purposes of defining the generations (see above for Millennials and Generation Z, which I am combining for the remainder of the analysis, unless noted), Generation X cohort are those born between 1966 and 1980, Baby Boomers are those born between 1945 and 1965, and the Greatest/Silent generations were born before 1945.