Thursday, November 7, 2019

Are NC "Suburbs" Trending Like National Suburbs?

With the analysis settling on the 2019 odd-year elections, the national narrative appears to be focused on the suburban swings against the GOP and towards the Democrats. And in the 2019 general election in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District, the 'swing' seemed to be more dichotomous in the 'suburbs.' More on that later.

First, an assumption: it is popularly imagined about the differences between 'urban' versus 'rural' areas of our nation and state. For example, an urban county contains a densely-populated central city (Mecklenburg County with Charlotte, Wake County with Raleigh), while 'rural' designates an area beyond a metropolitan area of the urban and surrounding suburbs, typically with low population density. Those are easily envisioned in their characteristics, and even more so nowadays in their 'political behavior.'

It's when you get into the 'suburbs' that popular conceptions of that type of region come into some potential differences. In my analyses, I rely on the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's 2017's classification of metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs. These MSAs designated a central city, surrounded by counties that are connected with the central city (surrounding suburban counties). Then, whatever counties are left, are considered 'rural' (and yes, there are micropolitan statistical areas, but I leave that for future analyses).

Thursday, October 31, 2019

How Important is the Last Saturday of Early Voting in NC?

With the recent bill in the North Carolina General Assembly making changes to the 'absentee by mail' process of voting in North Carolina, a provision was inserted that garnered bi-partisan support to include the last Saturday before Election Day as an 'early voting' day. The provision was likely in response to a lawsuit, filed by national and state Democrats, seeking to have the last Saturday included in the state's early voting period. The Saturday before Election Day had typically been the last day of early voting in the state.

In looking at the past four general elections (2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018), the early voting period saw the largest percentages of votes being cast by "absentee onestop," otherwise known as 'absentee in-person'; the other method of 'early voting' in North Carolina is absentee by mail. But how great a role has the last Saturday of in-person early voting played in these past elections, and in particular, what kind of impact has black/African American voters had in utilizing this form of convenience voting?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The NC Legislature Couldn't Use Political Data, But The Rest of Us Can: Analysis of the Proposed NC Maps

Now that the new NC legislative district maps have been submitted for review by the three-judge panel, those of us who study North Carolina politics can analyze how these maps may 'politically behave' with election data, something the General Assembly was barred from doing by court order.

As a reminder, the court held that the legislature had engaged in partisan gerrymandering with the state legislative district maps, and ordered the General Assembly to redraw the district maps containing the following counties in the state house:

"The Almanac of American Politics" Profiles of North Carolina & NC Governor's Race in 2020


The following text was provided to this blog by the authors of The Almanac of American Politics 2020 Edition, who retain copyright for this material and assume responsibility for the content:


North Carolina State Profile


In few states today is the political climate more polarized between Democrats and Republicans--and between rural, urban and suburban areas--than in North Carolina. Bolstered by rapid population growth from other states, North Carolina, and particularly its suburban areas, has become a hard-fought battleground, especially over the direction of state government. Beginning in 2010, North Carolina Republicans enjoyed large legislative majorities and increasing success in winning races at all levels. But in 2018, after seemingly endless battles over control of the state’s levers of power, voters dialed back their support for Republicans, electing enough Democrats to break the GOP’s legislative supermajorities, and in turn bolstering Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s leverage in policy debates. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Analyzing the "Non-Partisan" Legislative Districts in Mecklenburg County

With the approval of the proposed North Carolina State House and State Senate 'non-partisan' legislative maps, the North Carolina General Assembly is close to meeting its court-ordered redrawing of legislative districts for review by the three-judge superior court panel this week.

Much has been made about whether the new legislative districts in certain counties represent a truly 'non-partisan' redrawing of the maps, especially since the court order mandated that no electoral (read, partisan) data was to be used in the creation of the new districts.

There will be some debate over whether the 'base-line' maps (selected by random draws from the simulated maps provided by Dr. Chen) were non-partisan or not, but that is for the court to decide. However, those of us outside the legislative process do have partisan/electoral data at our disposal to analyze the precincts assigned to the proposed state house and senate districts.

While there are several counties that are being redrawn due to the court order, I decided to use Mecklenburg County to analyze their proposed state house and senate districts, due to the fact that Mecklenburg County gives their precinct election results with early votes (absentee one-stop, in particular) assigned back to the voter's respective precinct. Some counties (like Wake County) do not have their early votes publicly reassigned back to the precinct, make it harder to analyze a precinct's true electoral behavior (if anyone has a lead on how to get those precinct election returns to include early votes, please drop me an e-mail).

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Some Preliminary Findings from the NC Ninth: What Can We Learn?


The two-point margin of victory for Republican Dan Bishop over Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District might give some clues about where things potentially stand in the American electorate, while also demonstrating some voting trends unique to the Old North State.

Voter loyalty is intense.

Much of the national attention was on whether 2018’s last congressional election would be a potential bellwether election leading into the 2020 election cycle. The battle over the Ninth did show that a historic Republican district (GOP controlled since 1963) and that was drawn as a safe district perform as a Republican district.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Could We Finally Have an Election in the NC 9th?

Following the electoral fraud regarding absentee by mail ballots in the North Carolina Ninth, one of the nation's longest 'undecided' congressional elections from 2018 is finally coming to an end (we hope) this coming Tuesday, September 10. While it's still the only unresolved U.S. House race left for the Congress, some of the dynamics that we could see Tuesday may signal that it is also the first election for the 2020 U.S. House.

This lengthy blog post will review some of the 9th District's demographics and its 2016 and 2018 electoral performance, its current voter registration, its early voting leading up to Tuesday's general election, and then some final thoughts as to what I'll be looking for Tuesday evening.

As a reminder, the North Carolina 9th stretches from Bladen County and Cumberland County, with the city of Fayetteville, in the eastern portion of the state, westward to the city of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Previewing the NC 9th Congressional District Election on Sept. 10

While the summer news has been dominated by events outside of North Carolina (well, unless you count a recent presidential rally in Greenville), the Ninth Congressional District general election, featuring Democrat Dan McCready against Republican Dan Bishop, has been steadily marching on its own path towards the finish line of the September 10th general election.

However, this race may be nationalized by events outside of the district, most notably the recent presidential feud with "The Squad" and the horrific mass shootings in both El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

One of the ramifications already pontificated about from these events is the impact on the 2020 election, most notably some political observers suggesting that Trump's racism and rhetorical alignment with white nationalism and supremacy and his insensitivity regarding the mass shootings may continue to push suburban voters away from the President. Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report tweeted that:

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Previewing North Carolina for 2020's Election

With an upcoming interview for Spectrum News' "Capital Tonight" that previews the 2020 election in North Carolina, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some findings of the Old North State's electoral dynamics in the past several presidential election years, as we are slated to another "competitive battleground/lean GOP" state for next year's campaign.

As a reminder, since 2008, the state has witness some of the closest presidential elections in the nation among the states, following the 13 percentage-point victories for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004:


Since 2008, the number of voters casting ballots has gone up about 200,000 each election (+194,583 in 2012 from 2008's total, and +236,192 in 2016 over 2012's total). Voter turnout has typically been 68 to 69 percent of the registered voter pool, equating to around 4.5 million ballots cast.

To put things into a comparative perspective, North Carolina tends to be about 3.5 percent more Republican since 2008 than the nation, using the Republican presidential candidates' performance nationally to the state's GOP performance.


Thus, it's a fair assessment to say that North Carolina is a "center/lean-right" kind of a state.

The following data is from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, which, along with the American National Election Study, is a significant survey of Americans in election years, and provides some data, trends, and patterns to consider as we move into the 2020 election.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Where the NC Voter Pool Stands Halfway Through 2019

With the first half of 2019 in the books, and as we get closer to the 2020 election year, here's an overview of the 6.6 million registered voters in the Old North State, as of June 29, 2019.

Currently, the party registration breaks down as 37 percent registered Democrat, 32 percent registered unaffiliated, 30 percent registered Republican, and 1 percent registered the other parties (Libertarian, Green, and Constitution).

When breaking down different factors based on party registration, there continues some intriguing patterns to the voter pool.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Review of "The Long Southern Strategy"

Occasionally I have the opportunity to guest host WFAE's Charlotte Talks and interview some really fascinating people about a politics. Most recently, I interviewed Rob Christensen, former political reporter and columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer on his new book about North Carolina's Scott Family dynasty and the state's era of progressive politics, as well as former North Carolina attorney general, secretary of state, and 1984 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rufus Edminsten on his new book.

This week I'm interviewing Drs. Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields of the University of Arkansas on their new book, "The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics."


It is a deeply rich and extensive study of how the American South transformed from a deep blue, Solid Democratic region to now a Solid Republican South (albeit some states deeper in their red hues than others).

Saturday, June 29, 2019

NC Makes Constitutional Law History Again

In my previous post, I contemplated whether North Carolina's partisan gerrymandering case, known as "Rucho v. Common Cause" and combined with a Maryland case, would make constitutional law history. And indeed, it did.

It made history because the court, until a new majority assumes power, said "we aren't getting involved in these partisan gerrymandering cases because they are too political." Which further made the court a political institution, in the eyes of some, and an odd savior of partisan gerrymandering to others.

In an interview the day of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to involve federal courts in partisan gerrymandering because of the "political question" doctrine regarding justiciability, I mentioned the fact that we have a dual judicial system, with both a federal court system and a state court system. And that the state case, challenging partisan gerrymandering based on state constitutional law, was working its way through the state system and could end up at the North Carolina Supreme Court. Immediately after my comments, former state senator Bob Rucho (the "Rucho" of the case name) said the following:

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

NC could make constitutional law history yet again

With the pending decision by the US Supreme Court regarding North Carolina's redistricting & partisan gerrymandering case, the Old North State once again could enter the annuals of history when it comes to redistricting efforts: first, the state dominated the jurisprudence regarding race, redistricting, and racial gerrymandering; now, the state, along with a case out of Maryland, could be one of the lead decisions regarding politics, redistricting, and partisan gerrymandering.

In order to get the full impact of the Supreme Court's decision, it is best to get a sense of how this issue came to dominate the political landscape and how we got to awaiting the final opinion.

Following the 2011's redistricting efforts, led by supermajorities of Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly and not subject to a governor's review or veto (see NC Constitution, Article II, Section 22, Subsection 5), the initial congressional maps were challenged as racial gerrymandering. That legal challenge ended with the US Supreme Court upholding the lower court's judgment that the congressional district maps were unconstitutional, based on racial gerrymandering (Cooper v. Harris, 2017).

Monday, May 13, 2019

Final Numbers in the NC 9th Congressional District's Early Voting Period

While there will be some additional absentee by mail ballots coming in this week, the early ballots in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District primary is complete. Now, we await the final election numbers to come in on Election Day, this Tuesday, May 14. Below is some final analysis of early accepted ballots, along with some voter history and potential voter turnout considerations.

The overwhelming number of accepted early/"absentee" ballots are from those who cast them in-person, known in North Carolina as "absentee one-stop" ballots:


Friday, May 10, 2019

North Carolina's 9th Congressional District: Early Voting Nears The End

With early voting coming to an end today (on Friday, May 10), the early voting electorate is pretty much set for the North Carolina Ninth Congressional District. All that is left are the ballots to be cast at next Tuesday's Election Day, on May 14.

So far, within the GOP primary, 8,246 ballots have been requested, by both mail-in and in-person, with slightly under 8,000 votes (7,916) accepted as ballots for counting.

In terms of accepted early ballots (from both mail-in and in-person voting), Mecklenburg County continues to dominate the ballot pool, with half of all the early accepted ballots:


Monday, May 6, 2019

NC's 9th Congressional District Early Voters as of May 5, 2019

With early voting in the North Carolina 9th Congressional District well under way, more than 5,600 district voters have requested early ballots (either mail-in or voted in-person through 'one-stop' voting) in the new Republican primary contest. This analysis of early votes is based on data from the NC State Board of Elections for May 5, 2019.

Both registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters are allowed to cast ballots in the 10 candidate field, with registered Republicans outnumbering unaffiliated voters. Nearly 70 percent of the requested ballots so far are from registered GOPers.

North Carolina's Voter Trends: Regionalism in 2018's Election

As another chapter in exploring the Old North State's 2018 mid-term election data, it appears that North Carolina isn't just experiencing a tectonic shift among generational cohorts, but also within the geography of the state.

Like the rest of the nation, North Carolina is experiencing the 'urban-rural' divide in its politics, but with some clarifications as to the division. This analysis looks at the turnout rates in four 'regions' of the Old North State: at urban county voters who live within a central city (Charlotte, Raleigh, etc.), those voters who reside outside the central city but within that same urban county, voters in the surrounding suburban counties to the urban county, and then all rural votes. This page denotes which counties are in each category, based on the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's classification.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

North Carolina's Voter Trends: A Shifting Electorate In 2018

Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report about the impact of young voters on the 2018 mid-term elections.

The Census report documented that turnout among 18-29 year olds went from 20 percent in the previous mid-term election (2014) to 36 percent in 2018, "a 79 percent jump," the largest increase among any age group.

In thinking about the Old North State's electorate in the 2018 mid-terms, a similar pattern emerged as well among young voters. But instead of looking at age ranges as the U.S. Census does, I broke the electorates into their respective generational cohorts, and then analyzed several different aspects for who showed up in the 2018 'blue-moon' election in North Carolina.