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):

For those not from North Carolina, Republicans hold 10 congressional districts while Democrats hold 3 districts (the 1st, 4th, and 12th, of which the 1st and 12th are generally considered majority-minority districts at this time).

Within the 13 congressional districts, the partisan/party affiliation breaks down as:


U.S. House District Registered Democrat Registered Unaffiliated Registered Republican Registered Libertarian
1           314,031           130,374             80,953           1,965
2           192,894           173,598           189,939           3,136
3           176,493           156,146           161,596           2,730
4           247,503           213,477          112,507           3,782
5           168,619           149,948           190,520           2,454
6           188,179           144,899           168,001           2,184
7           191,403           160,622           174,840           2,516
8           176,627           156,726           166,723           2,566
9           200,961           153,431           161,862           2,026
10           167,824           161,445           183,133           2,545
11           160,328           183,733           188,032           2,932
12           274,881           173,992          110,278           3,517
13           189,431           153,667           181,230           2,425

Thus, the percentage within each congressional district by partisan registered voter composition is:


U.S. House District Registered Democrat Registered Unaffiliated Registered Republican Registered Libertarian
1 60% 25% 15% 0%
2 34% 31% 34% 1%
3 36% 31% 33% 1%
4 43% 37% 19% 1%
5 33% 29% 37% 0%
6 37% 29% 33% 0%
7 36% 30% 33% 0%
8 35% 31% 33% 1%
9 39% 30% 31% 0%
10 33% 31% 36% 0%
11 30% 34% 35% 1%
12 49% 31% 20% 1%
13 36% 29% 34% 0%


It has been traditional "lore" in North Carolina political circles that once a legislative district hits 35 percent Republican registration, the district tends to flip to the GOP in voting behavior. Currently, three congressional districts are at 35 percent or greater, with seven between 33 and 35 percent, and one (the 9th, out of Mecklenburg down to Cumberland counties), at 31 percent.

In terms of racial and ethnic dynamics within each congressional district:
U.S. House District White Non-Hispanic Voter Black or African-American Voter Hispanic‎/ Latino Voter All other races‎/ ethnicities‎/ unknown
1           240,866           240,357          10,284          35,816
2           397,460           108,276          15,941          37,890
3           359,332           106,032            9,806          21,794
4           353,041           125,745          19,306          79,177
5           398,858             77,451          12,598          22,634
6           359,469           107,299          12,338          24,157
7           389,291           102,443          10,814          26,833
8           325,224           124,519          17,543          35,355
9           342,058           102,967          12,870          60,385
10           418,793             62,709            9,387          24,058
11           489,689             15,697            7,006          22,633
12           267,370           222,368          24,504          48,426
13           363,664           122,279          11,438          29,372
State        4,705,115        1,518,142        173,835        468,530

In terms of percentages within each congressional district based on race and ethnicity:

U.S. House District White Non-Hispanic Voter Black or African-American Voter Hispanic‎/
Latino Voter
All other races‎/
ethnicities‎/
unknown
1 46% 46% 2% 7%
2 71% 19% 3% 7%
3 72% 21% 2% 4%
4 61% 22% 3% 14%
5 78% 15% 2% 4%
6 71% 21% 2% 5%
7 74% 19% 2% 5%
8 65% 25% 3% 7%
9 66% 20% 2% 12%
10 81% 12% 2% 5%
11 92% 3% 1% 4%
12 48% 40% 4% 9%
13 69% 23% 2% 6%
State 69% 22% 3% 7%


In terms of racial dynamics, two Republican held districts--the 8th and 13th--have slightly higher than state-wide averages of black/African-American voters.

By regionalism (meaning, urban, suburban, and rural county voters, as defined by the U.S. OMB):


U.S. House District Urban County Voters Suburban County Voters Rural County Voters
1           291,256                     -             236,067
2           342,833           126,978             89,756
3           235,840             16,783           244,342
4           577,269                     -                       -  
5           261,731             78,729           171,081
6           223,557           228,338             51,368
7           240,080           178,689           110,612
8           157,105           222,254           123,283
9          206,211           168,397           143,672
10           187,184           146,648           181,115
11           211,568           143,446           180,011
12           562,668                     -                       -  
13           241,028           179,006           106,719
State        3,738,330        1,489,268        1,638,026

And by percentages of regionalism within the congressional district:


U.S. House District Urban County Voters Suburban County Voters Rural County Voters
1 55% 0% 45%
2 61% 23% 16%
3 47% 3% 49%
4 100% 0% 0%
5 51% 15% 33%
6 44% 45% 10%
7 45% 34% 21%
8 31% 44% 25%
9 40% 32% 28%
10 36% 28% 35%
11 40% 27% 34%
12 100% 0% 0%
13 46% 34% 20%
State 54% 22% 24%


One of the interesting numbers are in the 6th, 8th, 13th, and 7th districts, which contain over a third of their voters in suburban counties, with the 9th district just slightly under a third of its voters in suburban counties. 

Another analysis is by generations within the congressional districts:


U.S. House District Generation Z (up to 21 YO) Millennials (22-37 YO) Generation X (38-53 YO) Baby Boomer (54-73 YO) Greatest‎/ Silent
(74-111 YO)
1          29,885           160,273           126,741           159,209          50,972
2          31,771           137,383           174,525           172,330          43,512
3          22,358           129,510           120,941           169,642          54,452
4          38,624           198,198           158,711           144,298          37,433
5          30,178           130,379           125,370           166,240          57,878
6          24,256           118,105           134,199           169,213          56,633
7          23,720           127,270           129,791           185,982          62,521
8          25,264           138,257           137,208           152,940          48,694
9          27,914           126,557           153,439           162,020          48,097
10          22,883           122,879           137,279           173,859          58,043
11          22,286           118,506           128,648           190,196          75,192
12          29,279           195,634           166,889           137,755          33,105
13          30,046           140,526           137,310           164,037          53,226
State        358,464        1,843,477        1,831,051        2,147,721        679,758

And by percentages for generations within congressional districts:

U.S. House District Generation Z (up to 21 YO) Millennials (22-37 YO) Generation X (38-53 YO) Baby Boomer (54-73 YO) Greatest‎/ Silent
(74-111 YO)
1 6% 30% 24% 30% 10%
2 6% 25% 31% 31% 8%
3 4% 26% 24% 34% 11%
4 7% 34% 27% 25% 6%
5 6% 25% 25% 32% 11%
6 5% 23% 27% 34% 11%
7 4% 24% 25% 35% 12%
8 5% 28% 27% 30% 10%
9 5% 24% 30% 31% 9%
10 4% 24% 27% 34% 11%
11 4% 22% 24% 36% 14%
12 5% 35% 30% 24% 6%
13 6% 27% 26% 31% 10%
State 5% 27% 27% 31% 10%


While 32.1 percent of the state's registered voters are under the age of 37 (Millennials and now Generation Z), four districts--the 1st, 4th and 12th (all held by Democrats) and the 13th (held by a Republican freshmen incumbent)--have higher percentages than the state of younger voters. 

Finally, much has been made about the 2018 mid-term elections may be another "Year of the Woman," especially among voters. The gender breakdowns by congressional district are:


U.S. House Districts Female Male Unknown‎/ Unreported
1           285,064           227,025          15,233
2           291,899           255,129          12,539
3           263,534           225,228            8,203
4           297,551           253,244          26,474
5           270,805           230,709          10,027
6           268,773           226,480            8,010
7           278,597           236,841          13,932
8           266,114           224,158          12,369
9           274,335           233,731          10,211
10           272,015           233,230            9,701
11           281,031           246,832            7,162
12           301,243          247,811          13,614
13           283,057           237,342            6,352
State        3,634,018        3,077,760        153,827

And by percentages:


U.S. House Districts Female Male Unknown‎/ Unreported
1 54% 43% 3%
2 52% 46% 2%
3 53% 45% 2%
4 52% 44% 5%
5 53% 45% 2%
6 53% 45% 2%
7 53% 45% 3%
8 53% 45% 2%
9 53% 45% 2%
10 53% 45% 2%
11 53% 46% 1%
12 54% 44% 2%
13 54% 45% 1%
State 53% 45% 2%


The congressional districts with the highest female percentages of voters are the 1st, 12th, and 13th, all with 54 percent of their registered voters as women. As is nationally the case, women tend to be a higher percentage of voter turnout in North Carolina elections. 

One of the final aspects that I would point to with North Carolina's congressional districts are the correlation between the 2016 vote for the Republican congressional candidates and Donald Trump's vote in the district. Here is a scatterplot, with a "line of fit," between the Trump vote in the district and the GOP congressional candidate's vote:


As shown by the line of fit and the R squared value of 0.976, Trump's vote can explain a great deal of the vote for the GOP congressional candidate in 2016. This close connection shows that partisan loyalty is very strong from the top of the ballot down to the congressional level, and if Trump's performance or approval is depressed in the state, the impact may be important to watch in North Carolina for Republican congressional candidates (some further thoughts on that can be found in this post). 

With Larry Sabato's Center for Politics recently changing (as of March 8) two NC congressional districts--the 9th and 13th--from "Likely Republican" to "Lean Republican" classification, it will be critical to watch the ultimate turnouts in the various districts to see how November may play out, especially among key demographic groups. 

I'll be doing a similar analysis (probably without charts, due to 170 seats) of the North Carolina General Assembly districts, both state house and state senate, and will be posting those numbers in the next article. Thanks for reading.