Wednesday, August 10, 2022


by Christopher Cooper

The electoral winds are blowing behind the Republican Party in 2022. Thanks to high inflation, an economy that isn’t serving all sectors of society, and the inevitable losses faced by the party of the president in a midterm, this will almost certainly be a good year for Republicans running for the N.C. General Assembly. All else being equal, districts with even the slightest red hue are expected to land safely into Republican hands in 2022. But, what about the districts where all else isn’t necessarily equal? 

I took at look at one such district, NC-119, in an issue of the NC Tribune. Please read more here:  


Chris Cooper is the Madison Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University. He tweets at @chriscooperwcu

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Supreme Court is Wildly Out of Touch with North Carolinians

By Whitney Ross Manzo

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States began issuing its most controversial decisions of the 2021-2022 term. They do this every year around the end of June into early July, which is traditionally their 'end of the term' before going into their “vacation” until the 2022-2023 term starts on the first Monday in October. (During this break, justices do some work of reviewing petitions and preparing for the next term. However, they are not nearly as active as during the term, such as hearing oral arguments and releasing opinions, so that they can disappear to Austria, if they like.)

For people who study and teach on the Court, like Michael Bitzer and I do, words cannot adequately express how unprecedented and radical last week’s decisions were. We are used to teaching students about how the Court relies on stare decisis (literally “to stand by things decided”) in order to promote stability and consistency in law. We explain how justices must use sound legal reasoning in order for their decisions to be respected and upheld by the other branches of government, and ultimately by the public at large.

Last week’s decisions took a giant wrecking ball to basically every lecture I have on the Supreme Court, because they illuminate how none of these things are actually true. Justices don't rely on stare decisis unless it suits them. Justices don't have to use sound legal reasoning because, honestly, who’s going to stop them? They are the final say on the Constitution, after all.

But should they be?

Monday, June 27, 2022

What Exactly is a Post-Roe America and North Carolina?

By Susan L. Roberts

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is indeed a landmark victory for the pro-life movement. The leaked draft unveiled by Politico on May 2 all but guaranteed a body blow to Roe.  The formal opinion differed from the leaked draft opinion only minimally with the addition of the syllabus and Alito’s comments on the concurring and dissenting opinions. What is being parsed are the concurring and dissenting opinions, especially that of Justice Clarence Thomas. It goes without saying the implications and impact of the ruling overturning Roe are as varied as they are dramatic, and no single analysis can capture the fluid and fierce nature of situation of a post-Roe America. 

Taking a step back from the close reading of the decision itself, let’s briefly look back at how we got here, what the national impact may be going forward, and what the impact may be for North Carolina.   As I wrote in May 2021, this “perfect storm” for the anti-abortion cause has been the result of a both a slow and strategically incremental approach as well a more radical course of action dedicated to the single cause of overturning Roe

Monday, June 20, 2022

Who Showed Up in May's Primary Election?

By Michael Bitzer

With the data finalized from the 100 counties and available via the NC State Board of Elections, we can now parse through who showed up to vote based on a number of factors. As reported in the Raleigh News and Observer recently, May's primary electorate had only two out of ten NC registered voters participate. But with the counties reporting their voter history data to the NC State Board of Elections and using the May 21 voter registration data file, we can see who showed up for May's primary. This blog post will look a variety of factors, specifically highlighting more detailed information based voter party registration, generational dynamics, and the location and type of precincts voters casting May primary ballots came from. 

Slightly over 1.4 million registered NC voters cast a May 2022 ballot, amounting to almost 20 percent registered voter turnout. That's the highest turnout in twenty years, as my colleague Chris Cooper noted in a previous blog post and chart:

Thursday, June 16, 2022

ONSP on the Monkey Cage Blog

Drs. Christopher Cooper and Michael Bitzer look at the question of whether Democrats are being "strategic crossover voters" in Republican primaries and find that, at least in the Madison Cawthorn Republican primary for the NC 11th Congressional District, enough registered Democrats-turned-Unaffiliateds participated in the GOP primary to perhaps doom the first-term controversial congressman.

Their analysis is at:

Thursday, June 9, 2022

(Some) Primaries Aren't Over Yet: What Do We Know About Runoffs and Second Primaries in North Carolina?

by Christopher Cooper and Michael Bitzer

Like a dinner guest that just won't leave, we're not done with the 2022 primaries yet. As the inimitable Gerry Cohen shows in the map below, 15 counties have either second primaries (partisan elections where the top vote-getter didn't get above 30% of the vote), runoffs* (nonpartisan elections where the top vote-getter didn't get above a threshold amount of vote), or local elections to look forward to on July 26. Now that the list of July election is set, we thought it would be a good time to review what we know about runoffs and second primaries in North Carolina. 

Source: Gerry Cohen's indispensable twitter feed:

A Brief History of Second Primary Rules in North Carolina

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Post-Primary 2022 Reflections

With some sleep (and probably more caffeine than sleep), here are some reflections and thoughts following the 2022 mid-term primary. Each of us will provide our own thoughts, and if we repeat each other, well, that may mean it is something others should be paying attention to. 

As a note: when the final voter data comes out after canvassing, we'll have a better set of empirical analyses to run, but here's what each of us are thinking following May 17's contest and preparations for the campaigns to November's general election. 

By Susan Roberts:

As we know, partisanship is perhaps the single most important predictor in voting. That’s one reason primary elections are intriguing. These races don’t provide the voter with a clear partisan cue, and voters must rely on other factors to make their choices. Perhaps one of the best and most recent reflections on these was a piece by Elaine Karmack of the Brookings Institution on lessons from the March 2022 Texas primaries. Karmack argues primaries are “the most consequential elections in American politics,” adding they have long been regarded as “the ugly stepchild of American politics; ignored by journalists and snubbed by political scientists.” We aren’t going to ignore them here in the Old North State.

Monday, May 16, 2022

With NC's early voting done, It's Election Time/Day for NC's Primary

By Michael Bitzer and Chris Cooper

With this past weekend's close of early, in-person voting for North Carolina's May 17 primary, we thought we'd revisit some of our thinking from last week and add in a few more data points (thanks to the great work by the N.C. State Board of Elections and the various counties with their public files) and observations (and questions) about what we might see come Tuesday's election.

Early Voting Sets a Mid-Term Primary Record

First, an overview of where things ended up with North Carolinians casting early votes, and boy did they ever. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Tentative Lessons from Early Voting in NC One Week From Election Day

By Chris Cooper and Michael Bitzer

While election day isn't until a week from today, it's been more than 40 days since the first ballot was accepted in North Carolina and over a week since the first person walked into an early voting site and cast an in-person ballot. So, it seems like a good time to take an early, preliminary, provisional, tentative assessment of what we can glean from the data thus far. So, with all of the caveats we can muster, here are some observations that we think we know about the 2022 electorate thus far.* 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

What Can We Expect for NC's May Primary Election?

By Michael Bitzer

With the start of early, in-person voting beginning on Thursday, April 28 for the May 17th North Carolina primary election, we can look back at the past five elections to perhaps see what kind of trends are present when it comes to how many votes may be cast, and what method we should expect when voters cast their ballots. 

So How Many Will Show Up for May 17?

First, what might we expect when it comes to the number of voters likely participating in this year's primary elections?

For both parties, there are some distinct trends when it comes to primaries held in presidential versus mid-term years. In presidential years, generally North Carolina sees about one million registered voters participate in each primary (for about two million total), depending on the competitiveness of the top-of-the-ballot contest.