Monday, August 28, 2023

A (Too Early) Look at No Labels Registrants in North Carolina

By Christopher Cooper

On Sunday, August 13, the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted 4-1 to recognize "No Labels" as an official political party in North Carolina. No Labels joined the Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian Parties as the state's only registered parties, although the largest group of registrants in the state remains Unaffiliated

Last Saturday, the North Carolina voter registration file was updated with the first wave (really more like a ripple) of No Labels registrants. So, who are these early adopters? 

Monday, July 17, 2023

Why Is NC's Governor Considered "Weak"?

For those who watch and study North Carolina politics closely, especially the different branches of state government, most acknowledge that the Old North State's chief executive--the governor--is considered to be one of the 'weakest' governors in the nation. And on WFAE's Charlotte Talks for Tuesday, June 18, ONSP contributor and Western Carolina University political science professor Dr. Christopher Cooper will join a discussion about the Tar Heel governor and its impact on state government and politics.

As some background, looking at each of the 50 governor's formal institutional powers (such as the number of elected or gubernatorial appointed executive officers; tenure length and re-election opportunity; appointments within six major areas of state bureaucracy; budgetary power; veto power; and gubernatorial party control of the legislature) and creating an overall index for each state, one can see a wide spectrum of formal power held by state chief executives across the country--and notice the very 'light-shaded' state of North Carolina. 

Map created based on data from Table 8-4 of Politics in the American States and updated for May 2023 legislative control
by Michael Bitzer

In fact, North Carolina's governor is currently ranked 50th out of the fifty states in institutional power, as Cooper notes in this blog post.

Monday, July 3, 2023

"The Almanac of American Politics" Profile of North Carolina and Gov. Roy Cooper

By Louis Jacobson

Editor's Note: Louis Jacobson is a senior correspondent for PolitiFact and a regular contributor on state politics to Sabato's Crystal Ball and U.S. News and World Report. Since 2002, Louis has handicapped political races, including races for Congress, governor, state legislature, other state offices, and the electoral college. Louis has served as deputy editor of Roll Call and as the founding editor of its legislative wire service, CongressNow. Earlier, Louis spent more than a decade as a reporter covering Congress, politics and lobbying for National Journal. He is also a senior author for "The Almanac of American Politics," a heralded reference work for those who are interested in knowing more about the politics of the United States. 

In this special column, Louis shares his chapter on North Carolina and Governor Roy Cooper. In addition, readers of ONSP can pre-order this book with a 15 percent discount.

For more than five decades, the Almanac of American Politics has set the standard for political reference books. 

In July, the Almanac will be publishing its 2024 edition, with some 2,200 pages offering fully updated chapters on all 435 House members and their districts, all 100 senators, all 50 states and governors, and much more.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Reaction to SCOTUS's Decision in Moore v. Harper

By Christopher Cooper

Nearing the end of its term, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in the highly anticipated Moore v. Harper case. Here are some quick reactions as to the critical points of the opinion (Michael Bitzer and I will likely have smarter and more informed takes after some more time has passed and after we've had a chance to read it a few more times). 

Before we descend into the weeds, I'm going to pull back and attempt to provide a 10,000 foot nuance-free summary of how we got to this point. If you're the kind of person who has strong opinions on the independent state legislature theory (ISL), or is prepared to weigh in on the relative weight we should apply to so-called "natural packing" v. gerrymandering, this summary is not for you. 

If, however, you've been paying attention to other things (hello: College World Series fans) and want to catch up quickly, this is for you. Just remember, as a nuance-free summary, it might get you through a cocktail party conversation, but not one filled with politicos or election lawyers.

Monday, May 8, 2023

An Analysis of North Carolina's New Abortion Bill

By Rebecca J. Kreitzer

Editor’s note: with the high visibility regarding Senate Bill 20, which the North Carolina General Assembly introduced and passed last week, ONSP asked an expert on abortion policy, Dr. Rebecca Kreitzer, to offer her analysis on the bill and its potential impacts as a special contribution to the blog. Her views do not represent the opinions of her home academic institution.

Recently, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 20, a process that saw the bill's introduction to final adoption completed in less than two days. Ostensibly entitled "Care for Women, Children and Families Act," the first half of the bill restricts access to abortion in numerous ways before tacking on an assortment of policy changes to "improve infant and maternal health." However, the law's provisions make little impact on improving healthcare for women or children, and likewise it shouldn't be referred to as a "12 week abortion ban" because the restrictions on abortion begin earlier than 12 weeks and go far beyond gestational bans. 

In total, about 48 hours transpired between the content of the bill becoming public and the bill passing the Senate and getting sent to Governor Cooper –  notably shorter than the mandatory waiting period the law requires for patients seeking abortion to reflect on their decision. Governor Cooper will veto the bill. However, with State Representative Tricia Cotham becoming a Republican only months after campaigning on a platform of expanding access to abortion, the Republicans now have a slim veto-proof supermajority in both chambers to override the governor’s objections and make the bill law. Republican legislators in the General Assembly have maximized their chances at overriding a veto, including changing chamber rules to allow veto override votes to be taken without any prior notice. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Right-Sizing Expectations about Gubernatorial Power in North Carolina

By Christopher Cooper

Last Saturday at the Ace Speedway, Lt. Governor Mark Robinson revealed the worst kept secret in North Carolina politics: he's running for Governor.

Journalists from across the state and country took note of Robinson’s announcement and rightly articulated why it might be the most watched gubernatorial election in the country, come 2024. The subtext of these articles is that the Governor of North Carolina matters.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Perceptions of Polarization in North Carolina

By Whitney Ross Manzo and David McLennan

Recently, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) gained attention for a statement in which she argued for a national divorce between red and blue states. She argued that from “the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are done.” Although Greene was widely criticized for her remarks, even by members of the Republican Party, her comments reflected the belief that America’s political polarization is based on wildly divergent policy positions. Her comments also suggest that polarization has increased to the point that the country may be at a breaking point. 

Although there is evidence that policy differences exist, particularly on cultural war issues, and may contribute to political polarization, there is also a body of research that suggests that political polarization is based on social identity differences. As opposed to differences in ideology, affective polarization is the idea that we identify with people more similar in identity to us (political affiliation, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) and feel dislike and even disgust for those who are different from us. 

Using data from the Meredith Poll from 2017-2023, we set out to examine whether we find evidence of polarization among North Carolinians. Do North Carolinians perceive there to be high levels of polarization? And, are North Carolinians polarized, either by issue or by identity?

Monday, April 10, 2023

Putting Tricia Cotham's Party Switch in Context

By Christoper Cooper and Michael Bitzer

Donald Trump's indictment might have received the most political attention last week and Democrats won a critical state supreme court race in Wisconsin, but the most politically consequential event in the United States might have taken place eight hours away from the eye of the Trump storm. On April 5, 2023, Tricia Cotham, a Democratic lawmaker in North Carolina's State House, announced that she was switching political parties. Elected as a Democrat, Cotham is now a Republican.

Cotham's move essentially rendered Governor Cooper's veto ineffective. The Republicans now have supermajority control of both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly and can override Cooper's veto without securing a single Democratic vote. 

The news about Cotham raised all sorts of questions about party switching in general, and how it potentially fits into a seismic shift in North Carolina politics.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Where Things Stand in the NC General Assembly

Blog contributor and Western Carolina University Professor Dr. Chris Cooper discusses the latest in what is happening at the North Carolina General Assembly with the Carolina Journal. 

You can find his interview at: 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Literacy Test in NC: Lessons from 1970

By Christopher Cooper

Last week Representatives Alexander (D), Saine (R), Brown (D), and Stevens (R) introduced a bipartisan bill in the North Carolina House to remove the literacy test from the NC State Constitution. This bill is just the latest attempt to send this racist vestige of the Jim Crow South packing; we've been down this road before.

I wrote about the literacy test in 2021 and 2022, but now that there is a new bill--and one that seems to be more likely to pass--I thought it would be a good time to reassess the issue but hopefully without tilling the same soil. Below, I briefly review the origins of the literacy test (spoiler alert: it's racist), briefly analyze the last statewide vote on the issue in 1970 and discuss what all of this means for the likelihood of repeal this year.