Friday, October 22, 2021

North Carolina is a Long State. And That Matters for Its Politics

 by Christopher Cooper

I was scrolling Twitter this morning and saw at tweet by Henry Gargan (I don’t know him, but from his Twitter account, he seems like a nice and smart fellow. Good bird photographer, too), noting “always a little startled thinking about how much more North Carolina there is West of Asheville.”*


Gargan is, of course, correct. There is indeed a lot of North Carolina past Asheville- hours of it, in fact. There’s a mid-sized university, part of a national park, a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, 8 counties, a separate nation, a ton of bears, some good flatpickers, terrific whitewater, three NC House districts, two NC Senate districts, and the better part of a congressional district.


People chimed in, as you would expect, with their experiences with far Western North Carolina geography—some commented about how many other state capitals are closer to them than Raleigh, some talked about the length of time from Murphy to Asheville, and one said it’s the same distance from Manteo to Robbinsville as from Robbinsville to Dallas (fact check: not true. But I get the point. It’s a long state).


Perhaps unintentionally, Gardan’s tweet revealed a lot about the importance of political geography for political representation. Distance from the state capital influences  how people think about politics and how they are represented.