Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Lay of the Political Landscape: An Analysis of the 2020 North Carolina State Senate Races

This is the second in a series regarding the 'state of the field' when it comes to the North Carolina General Assembly, the U.S. House districts, the gubernatorial contest, U.S. Senate race, and the presidential contest in North Carolina. Between now and early September, each week will see a new post analyzing the data and dynamics and giving some assessment (but not a forecast) of what to look for in November. This week we posted an analysis of the state's 7 million registered voters, and continue this week with the upper chamber of the General Assembly, the North Carolina state senate. In the coming weeks, we'll have the companion legislative analysis for the state house, along with the congressional, gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, and presidential contests in the Old North State. 

By Chris Cooper and Michael Bitzer

It is relatively easy to keep up with national and state-level races. Polling results, campaign finance data, and career details of the candidates are available to anyone with access to a library card, newspaper subscription, or keyboard. State legislative races, however, can be more difficult to follow. Their sheer number makes them hard to keep track of (170 in North Carolina), and the diffuse nature of state politics means that there’s not “one source” to find most of this information across all states. 

This is a problem not just for politicos, but for anyone who wants to follow what we would argue is the most important policy-making body for issues that affect people’s lives. Concerned about voting rights/voter security, abortion rights/right to life, gun rights/gun regulation, the quality of the roads you drive on, or economic development issues? The fault lines on those issues lies squarely in the purview of the state legislature. 

In order to attempt to bridge the gap between importance and knowledge, this entry provides a brief(ish) update and analysis on the 50 races for North Carolina Senate in 2020. One of us (the one with the trademark bow-tie) posted a similar analysis in February. This one builds off of that base with some new data and some new analysis. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Lay of the Political Landscape: NC's 7M Registered Voters

As we draw closer to this month's nomination conventions and then Labor Day's 'unofficial' official start to the fall campaign season, Old North State Politics will be running a series looking at the 'lay of the political land' when it comes to North Carolina's pool of registered voters, the General Assembly, the thirteen U.S. House districts, and the gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, and presidential contests. Between now and early September, each week will have a new post analyzing the data and dynamics and giving some assessment (but not a forecast) of what to look for in November. This week we start with a ground-level analysis of the state's registered voter pool, followed later this week with the upper chamber of the General Assembly, the North Carolina state senate. 

By Michael Bitzer

As we inch towards the general election on Tuesday, November 3rd, we are starting to see North Carolina's voter registration pool shape up, with some key demographics and factors at play in the eligible pool of voters. And even with COVID-19, the numbers are on pace with four years ago, although there are some interesting patterns shaping up within the voter pool. 

Recently, North Carolina again went over 7 million registered voters, which the state has done before, but due to comprehensive maintenance of the voter rolls, that number dipped below 7M in January 2019 thanks to the removed voters.

With the August 1, 2020 statewide data file, we can look at not just the current standing of registered voters in the Old North State, but we can also get a profile of this year's registered voters who have been added to the pool so far.

Of the 7,040,308 voters in the August 1 data file, party registrations have remained consistent throughout the year: 36 percent are registered Democrats, 33 percent registered Unaffiliated, and 30 percent registered Republicans, with the remainder made up of registered Libertarians, Greens, and Constitution party voters.

Monday, July 27, 2020

NC's Absentee by Mail Ballot Requests Could Hit 100K This Week

By Michael Bitzer

Two weeks ago, I posted an article about the estimated number of absentee by mail (ABM) ballot requests submitted by North Carolina registered voters, based on a July 7th report from the NC State Board of Elections and information from various county boards of elections. At that point, the estimated requests stood at 69,500.

Following that, the State Board began a daily report of the requests, found here, that not only gives the status of requests by counties, but also various demographic factors, such as voter race, gender, ethnicity, and age ranges. In the past week since the report has been posted and updated daily, the numbers of ABM requests have grown considerably, and this piece will see where things stand now as we are under a hundred days away from the general election, and more importantly, only forty days from when the ABM ballots will sent out to voters.

As of Monday, July 27, the estimated total requests for NC absentee by mail ballots stands at 92,370, up from the initial estimated number that was posted of 69,500, an increase of thirty-three percent over the past two weeks. Based on projections that I'll discuss shortly, we could easily see North Carolina reach an estimated 100,000 requests within the next week, most likely by Monday, August 3rd.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Recent NC Polls show discrepancies: what explains it?

By David McLennan, Guest Contributor

Two recent polls about the US Senate race in North Carolina raised the eyebrows of many political observers in the state and around the nation. The June East Carolina University Poll had Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham tied with Republican incumbent Thom Tillis (41-41). Public Policy Polling (PPP) released their June poll results that had Cunningham up eight points over Tillis (47-39).

This race, expected to be very competitive by national forecasting organizations such as the Cook Political Report, appears to be a toss-up, according to the ECU Poll, but less so in the PPP Poll.

The discrepancy in these results is not unique to these two polling organizations. Results about North Carolinians preference for president in April showed equally dissimilar results from the Civitas Poll and my own Meredith Poll.

These differing results do not mean there is anything wrong with the methodologies used by the polling organizations. It reflects a more fundamental fact about public opinion that early polls—those conducted months before Election Day—are going to have results that differ, often wildly. The reality is that the surveys administered closer to Election Day are going to be more consistent with each other and show more stability in public opinion.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Party Switchers in the North Carolina Electorate

By Chris Cooper

The makeup of a state’s electorate can change in a few ways. The first is what is euphemistically known as “generational replacement”—people enter the electorate when they come of age and they exit the electorate when they shuffle off their mortal coil. People can also register at any point after they reach 18—large-scale registration can spur small pockets of registration and affect the shape of the electorate. Voters can also from one state to another—influencing the electorate in the state they leave and that they move to. A small, but important number of registered voters also have their voting rights temporarily suspended after committing a felony.

While all of these patterns are important, the partisan makeup of the electorate can also change when registered voters switch parties. Examining these patterns in party switching can give us signals about how the opinions, attitudes and behaviors of the electorate may be changing.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

How Police Actions Change Perceptions of Law Enforcement

by Whitney Manzo

With recent news stories surrounding public Confederate statutes across the South, North Carolina has been home to several controversial decisions, and removals, of these memorials. All around the country these statues have come under fire as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, with many being toppled by protestors. While more Americans favor letting Confederate statues stand than removing them, it is not a majority, and the percentage of supporters has decreased quite a bit in the last few years- a fairly quick shift in public opinion. Still, many North Carolinians oppose the removal of Confederate statues, which has led to a few tense standoffs between Black Lives Matter protestors and counter-protestors.

For example, there has been a storm of controversy around the outside of the Alamance County courthouse, where a Confederate monument depicts a generic Confederate soldier on top of a column. The base of the statue is adorned with carved Confederate flags, and lists of Confederate soldiers from the county and other Confederate relics are stored inside the monument. A group of community leaders, including educators, business people, and politicians, have called for the monument to be removed from its pedestal and placed in a museum, but Alamance County Commissioners claim they don't have the power to do so under North Carolina law.

Monday, July 13, 2020

An Estimate of Where NC Stands in Absentee-by-Mail Ballot Requests

By Michael Bitzer

Note: this article was posted at 8:30 AM on Monday, July 13; during the day, I received more updated numbers from several counties, and have updated the overall numbers given below at 9 PM on Monday, July 13. 

The issue of voting by mail continues to cause controversy in the news, especially by unsubstantiated allegations that voting by mail allows for rampant fraud. Recent tweets by the president alleging "mail in ballot fraud found in many elections," while providing no specific cases or facts, continues to keep an important method of casting ballots in the spotlight.

We know that other states are utilizing voting by mail for the general election, but North Carolina has had mail-in voting as its original form of absentee voting. And typically, NC vote by mail ballots are a relatively small percentage of overall ballots cast in an election--but 2020 may herald a new day in NC voting, if early numbers are any indication of voters requesting mail-in ballots. And, as I’ll explain below, we have a general sense of what those early numbers are like, as of mid-July.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

ONSP's first "vlog" on the South and the 2020 Election

So, we decided to try something out: a 'vlog', or a video version of a blog post. Since the four of us study American politics, we also look at things through a Southern point of view at times, and an article on "Democrats, Biden look to accelerate Southern political shift," by Bill Barrow of the AP this week caught our attention. 

Here are some thoughts as to how each of us see the role of the South in the 2020 election, as well as thinking about the political dynamics through race, generations, and what the region may be like come this fall. We'll try to do an occasion "vlog" as we have time and there's an interesting story to further explain. 


Monday, July 6, 2020

North Carolina's "None" Voters: The Growing Non-Reporting of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

By Chris Cooper and Michael Bitzer

The Increasing Relevance of a Footnote

Both of us spend a lot of time with the North Carolina voter registration and voter history files. When we present data, evidence, and analyses from these files, we usually provide a small footnote that indicates something like “*we exclude a small number of voters for which demographic data are not available” or acknowledge that a portion of voters don’t report their classification. Over the past few months, however, we both have begun to question how small of a number these "no label" voters really represents. In the course of investigating it, we have discovered that, while still relatively small, the number of folks who do not answer the demographic questions when they register to vote is increasing. As we discuss below, this presents some problems that many of us must grapple with when doing similar analyses in the future.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Timeout, Not A Slam-dunk: June Medical Services LLC v. Russo

By Susan Roberts

U.S. Supreme Court cases involving questions of access to abortion are always extremely contentious and even volatile. Court decisions are highly awaited, as pro-life and pro-choice advocates watch to see the scope and the direction of the outcome. The ruling in the case of June Medical Services offered both a sigh of relief for pro-choice supporters and a glimmer of hope for pro-life activists.

On June 28, the Supreme Court's ruling in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo upheld an earlier precedent on access to abortion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. While the cases dealt with almost identical regulations on hospital admitting privileges and the cases were ruled upon almost four years ago to date, questions on access to abortion remain. The June Medical decision should not be considered an unequivocal victory for pro-choice advocates. The decision is narrow and represents more a deference to precedent than a new frontier for abortion rights.

To better understand the ruling, let’s look at the case itself, the decision, the composition of the Court, and the possible impact of this ruling on Trump’s re-election. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

NC Registered Voter Pool Hits 7 Million: Who Are They? And Who Has Registered Since 2016?

By Michael Bitzer

This past week, North Carolina's voter registration pool hit 7 million (7,003,881 to be exact), which includes active, inactive, and temporary registered voter records. As we hit the half-way point of 2020, I'll take a look at who these 7 million voters are, based on a number of characteristics that are contained in the voter registration data file, along with who has registered since the last presidential election year of 2016 and since the beginning of the year.

As a reminder: the North Carolina State Board of Elections updates the data file of all registered voters every Saturday, with the data records found here. In the files are voters who are classified as "removed" or denied (approximately 976,000); they are not included in this analysis.

Among the active, inactive, and temporary voters, party registration continues at the general pace it has been this year: 36 percent registered Democrats, 33 percent registered unaffiliated, 30 percent registered Republicans, and one percent registered with the other parties (Libertarian, Green, and Constitution).

North Carolina Voter Registration as of June 27, 2020: Party Registrations

Thursday, June 25, 2020

What effects might the "Great Cessation" have on North Carolina's counties?

By Whitney Manzo

“Doggone scary” and “grim” are two ways one state lawmaker has described North Carolina’s state budget outlook after learning that we’re looking at a $4 billion shortfall during the next two years due to the economic impacts of Covid-19. The state budget director has also said North Carolina will experience a recession soon, if it isn’t already here.

But what about county budgets? After all, these local governments have arguably been even harder hit than the state, given that counties run many of the hospitals that care for Covid-19 patients and administer many of the state’s welfare programs that help families get through business closures and unemployment. Since counties run elections, too, they’ve been doing all this while trying to administer the upcoming 2020 election cycle; no small feat in a “normal” year, it’s been a nightmare trying to safely conduct representative democracy in the midst of a pandemic.

Luckily, I have a dataset that covers all 100 North Carolina counties from 2006-2018 and I can calculate what we might expect regarding county budgets by looking at what happened from 2009-2011, the years directly following the Great Recession. Because budgets are generally decided one year in advance, we must begin our analysis one year past the start of the Great Recession (some say it began in December 2007, but we’re going to just go with 2008 as the starting year).

Looking at all North Carolina counties together, from 2009 to 2010, 70% of counties experienced a decrease in their budget. Half of those were double-digit decreases. The largest cuts were experienced by Durham County, which cut its budget from the 2008-2009 fiscal year by a shocking 40%, and Iredell County, which cut its budget by 35%. This is all the more striking considering that Durham County grew by over 5,500 people in that time, and Iredell County grew by 2,300 people. So, at the same time that these counties were experiencing rapid expansion in the number of residents they need to serve, they were also drastically cutting services.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

About Last Night: A Quick Look Back at the NC-11 Republican 2nd Primary

By Chris Cooper

Let me get the confession out of the way at the beginning: I didn’t see it coming either. I assumed the race would be close. I thought Cawthorn might pull it out, but I never imagined that he would garner almost twice as many votes as Bennett. Nor did I predict that he would win Haywood County—Bennett’s home county and her geographic base. In the end, Cawthorn won every county except Rutherford—a county that sits only partly in the 11th Congressional District. In the words of Barack Obama, it was a “shellacking;” George W. Bush might have called it a “thumping.”

I’ll also admit that the types of deep data-dives that fit with the mission of this blog may seem more interesting when races are close—after all, there’s not much need to pour over the box score from the fifth inning when one team ends the game with twice as many runs as the other. Nonetheless, it is a long season, so it’s important to step back and see what the data tell us about what happened last night, and what this might tell us about the state of politics in North Carolina moving forward. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Assessing The Early Vote in the NC-11 2nd Primary

By Chris Cooper

Early voting has concluded for the 2nd primary in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. Although mail-in ballots will continue to be counted and accepted through election day, this seems like a good time to stop and take stock of the “early” vote in the 11th (defined for this piece as all votes accepted through the last day of in-person early voting). In addition to additional mail-in votes, there will almost certainly be some slight adjustment to the overall numbers in the coming days.

Other than a brief reminder of the candidates (Madison Cawthorn and Lynda Bennett) and their home counties (Henderson and Haywood, respectively), I’ll leave a detailed description of the players and the circumstances out of this one. If you want to catch-up, I’ve included some more description in my first post for Old North State (along with links to coverage from local and national journalists). I also wrote an entry for the London School of Economics American Politics blog that summarizes many of the players and events and an article in yesterday's Asheville Citizen Times that describes why this election is so important. Since those pieces posted, Chris Cioffi had a helpful article in Roll Call and Kyle Perrotti of the Waynesville Mountaineer and Gary Robertson of the AP posted good preview articles.

On to what we know thus far:

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Politics of the U.S. Senate in the 2020 Election

By Michael Bitzer

With the significant attention given to the presidential battle that's coming up this November, more and more folks are starting to analyze the impact of the 35 races that could determine control of the U.S. Senate come January. Drs. Susan Roberts of Davidson and Chris Cooper of Western Carolina (and of this blog), along with myself, take a look at the North Carolina contest between incumbent Republican Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, along with looking at the South Carolina Graham-Harrison contest and some others in this episode of Charlotte Talks.

Monday, June 15, 2020

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: Taking the Temperature of the 11th Congressional District Runoff

By Chris Cooper
Just when you thought it was safe to turn your attention to the General Election, it turns out there are still two North Carolina primaries left to decide. The first, in Columbus County remains undecided because some voters received the wrong ballot on election day. As a result, The State Board of Elections called for a new Republican primary to take place on June 23 for the Columbus County District 2 Commission race.

The second undecided primary occurred for more traditional reasons: a runoff. Like much of the South, North Carolina election law requires that candidates receive a threshold percentage of the vote to move forward. If the winner of a primary does not meet this threshold (30 percent in North Carolina), the second-place candidate can request a second primary. And, this is exactly what happened in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district where Lynda Bennett earned the most votes in the Republican primary, but was more than seven percentage points shy of the 30 percent threshold. 24-year old Madison Cawthorn eeked out second place and filed for a second primary. Election Day for this primary will occur June 23, although mail-in and one-stop early voting is already under way.

The circumstances that led to this primary, and the specifics of the candidates in the race are fascinating, but have been covered extensively by local and national reporters. In this spirit of this blog, I’m going to limit myself here to what the early returns can tell us about the candidates and whether early voting tea leaves can uncover anything about understanding elections in a time of Coronavirus. And, although the Columbus County race is fascinating, what follows only reflects returns from the 11th Congressional District.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Post-COVID-19 precipitous drop in NC voter registration

By Michael Bitzer

With the end of May and now the Phase 2 reopening of North Carolina (even though COVID-19 cases in the state are increasing), many are wondering about the economic impact on the state from the stay-at-home order from mid-March. From my point of view and research interest, another area is about voter registration and what has happened over the first five months of 2020. Articles are drawing attention on the drop of new voters across the nation since the pandemic began, and recent actions by the NC General Assembly have sought to loosen the requirements on using absentee vote-by-mail for this year's election.

In looking at the May 30, 2020 voter registration data file from the North Carolina Board of Elections, there was a significant drop in new voter registration in April and May:

To have gone from nearly 80,000 registered voters at the beginning of the year down to less than 20,000 seems to be a significant drop. Some might speculate, well, after a primary election in March, wouldn't voter registration trail off and then pick back up with the beginning of the fall campaign?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What might presidential coattails, or voter loyalty, mean in 2020 in North Carolina?

By Michael Bitzer

In a recent Politico article on "Swing-state Republicans warn Trump's reelection is on shaky ground," former NC Governor Pat McCrory observed "the concern is: Will he have coattails for the other offices, from Senate to governor and other important races?" Geoffrey Skelley at also looked at the effect of presidential coattails on a variety of down-ballot contests through various studies by political scientists. He comes to the conclusion that while presidential coattails can certainly help down-ballot party candidates, the inverse may be true as well: the president could bring down those lower-ballot candidates as well.

For most political scientists and historians of American politics, the concept of presidential coattails is that the 'top of the ticket/ballot,' that is the president, would bring in lower-level candidates (U.S. Senate and House candidates, for example) who might not have been able to win on their own accord. In other words, presidents could potentially drag their party's candidates across the finish line to victories in the general election.

With the increase in partisan loyalty of American voters, one of the key questions asked about voter behavior is whether the top of the ticket is bringing in the votes for lower level office candidates of the same party, or could the top of the ticket represents voters who vote 'straight party' down the ballot?

Friday, May 22, 2020

The History of the NC Republican Party, via the Levine Museum of the New South

By Michael Bitzer

Last year, Dr. Tom Hanchett, a community historian and, for 16 years, the Staff Historian at Levine Museum of the New South and now is historian-in-residence for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, asked me to do a presentation on the history of the Republican Party in North Carolina.

With the upcoming Republican National Convention, it was a perfect for their series, "The New South for New Southerners," and it would be a fun presentation for me to put together for an in-person evening of talking about politics in the Old North State.

Little did we realize that COVID-19 would cancel that in-person presentation, so we did the next best thing: went online with a FaceBook Live presentation. 

Here's the presentation, along with a Q&A for a few minutes afterwards. I'm thinking of breaking up the presentation and doing a separate series of YouTube videos on each of the three questions that I pose in the presentation, along with including a bit more depth of items that I couldn't get into the presentation due to time constraints. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Investigating North Carolina's Absentee by Mail Vote Method

By Michael Bitzer

With the current discussion about voting by mail and its potential use for the 2020 elections, both for primary and general contests, and the possible partisan ramifications of this vote method, North Carolina has utilized absentee by mail voting as one of its voting methods for elections since the early 20th Century. Along with absentee onestop voting (which was introduced in 1977 and is in-person, no excuse voting during a window of time before an election) and Election Day in-person voting, absentee by mail voting is one of the top three forms of casting ballots for voters in the Old North State.

In researching North Carolina politics for nearly twenty years, I have data from the North Carolina State Board of Elections regarding both registered voter information and voter history (meaning, data on each voter who cast a ballot, along with their vote method--but not their vote choice). Recently, I presented research at the Citadel Symposium on Southern Politics regarding "A Matter of Electoral Convenience: Early Voting in North Carolina, 2004-2018" that prompts me to write this blog post, for public awareness and education on North Carolina's use of voting by mail.

Based on this research, I want to briefly summarize what political scientists know about "convenience voting," the term related to voting other than on Election Day (many people may refer to it as 'early voting,' 'voting by mail,' or 'absentee voting'). First, I'll cover some general observations about convenience voting and absentee by mail voting based on research by political scientists, and then an in-depth exploration of the data related to absentee voting, especially by mail, in North Carolina and in the 2016 presidential general election.

What is known about absentee/convenience voting? 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Who Showed Up for North Carolina's Super Tuesday Primary Election?

By Michael Bitzer

It's been a month since North Carolina held its primary election on Super Tuesday, and the data is finally available for who showed up to cast ballots in the respective party primaries.

In total, the state saw a turnout rate of 31 percent, with over 2.1 million ballots being cast. This is slightly down from the overall 2016 March primary election, where 35 percent of registered voters showed up, casting 2.3 million ballots.

This year's Democratic primary ballots did exceed 2016's numbers: 1.3 million and 1.1 million four years ago. The drop was in Republican primary ballots, not surprising due to a lack of competitive primary at the presidential level.

Out of this year's primary elections in the state's 100 counties, 98 of them appear to have submitted their data for which voters showed up, with which party primary and vote method the voter used in casting a ballot.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Some thoughts on Super Tuesday

By Michael Bitzer

So, it's finally here: Super Tuesday, the March 3 primary elections in North Carolina and thirteen other states, especially California and Texas (with bigger Democratic delegations than North Carolina).

As I await the polls closing at 7:30 PM and then see the returns come in, some questions and thoughts about Super Tuesday that I'll be looking for tonight and tomorrow:

Question 1: what is North Carolina's split between early and Election Day results?

Sunday, March 1, 2020

NC's Democratic Primary Early Voters: Diversification in Many Ways

by Michael Bitzer

With Saturday's final day of early voting, it's time to take a deep dive into the data to see who showed up to cast absentee ballots before the "Super Tuesday" March 3rd primary election in the Old North State.

North Carolinians have three main options in casting ballots: absentee by mail, absentee onestop (which is no-excuse early voting in-person), and Election Day voting (including transfers and provisional ballots).

In this year's preliminary total, close to 800,000 ballots were cast in all party primaries through February 29 (over 500,000 of those ballots are in the Democratic primary), and while there will be some "settling" by counties and remaining processing, the following descriptive analysis should give us a sense of who showed up. We'll have to wait until Tuesday (March 3) night, shortly after the polls close at 7:30 PM, to get a sense as to how these early voters decided.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

It Isn't "The State of the Union," But Rather "The State of the Divide"

by Michael Bitzer

Based on last night's performance of the State of the Union, I have to think that there is a real possibility we have seen the last televised State of the Union (SOTU) before a joint session of Congress when the House of Representatives is controlled by the party opposite the White House.

In other words: another norm broken.

First, some historical & constitutional perspectives about States of the Union.

Article II, Section 3, Clause 3 states “He [the President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient...

This is the constitutional foundation of the SOTU. Notice there's nothing said about how the "Information on the State of the Union" shall be given. And it's "from time to time"--nothing constitutionally specific there either. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Analysis of North Carolina State Senate Districts

by Michael Bitzer

In a previous post, I looked at the North Carolina State House of Representatives and the numbers within the new districts, based on a recent redistricting. This post looks at the numbers for the state senate and its districts, utilizing the classification approach and data. 

As a reminder: the classification approach that I take is based on a district's their partisan behavior, meaning the categories use a combination of factors: 

  • presidential results within the district; 
  • voter registration percentages (party registration and racial demographics) from the January 11, 2020 registration file from the North Carolina State Board of Elections; and,
  • the district's 'regionalism,' namely the percentage of registered voters in center cities (urban counties), outside of the center city but still inside an urban county, a surrounding suburban county, or a rural county.

As I showed in the previous post, the relationship between Donald Trump's 2016 vote performance in a district matches up very closely to the Republican candidate's vote performance in the 2018 election:

Saturday, February 1, 2020

"Carolina Campaigns" Podcast has its first episode

I'm pleased to announce that I've joined up with Dr. Joe Cabosky for a new podcast on North Carolina politics, campaigns, and elections (along with other topics that come to our minds) called "Carolina Campaigns."

Dr. Cabosky is an assistant professor at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he teaches market research and case studies, along with conducting research into diversifying and disrupting strategic communications, public relations, and advertising. He writes at

Our podcasts will run every two weeks (or so), and can be found on SoundCloud. Our first episode looks at the Iowa Caucuses a week out, and the political nuances that can be found in North Carolina politics, from both of our points of view and scholarly work. We hope you'll take a listen.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Analysis of North Carolina State House Districts

by Michael Bitzer

With the upcoming North Carolina primary elections on March 3, and with the state legislative and congressional district maps finalized for the 2020 election, here's a look at the North Carolina House of Representatives districts for where things stand at the beginning of the year, and the possible classifications for each district come November.

My approach to classifying districts is based on their partisan behavior, meaning the categories use a combination of factors: presidential results within the district; voter registration percentages (party registration and racial demographics) from the January 11, 2020 registration file from the North Carolina State Board of Elections; and the district's 'regionalism,' namely the percentage of registered voters in center cities (urban counties), outside of the center city but still inside an urban county, a surrounding suburban county, or a rural county.

First, to give a sense of how the four regions performed as a whole in the 2016 presidential election, this chart gives the four regions and their state-wide performances:

Thursday, January 9, 2020

NC Voters Since 2016: Younger, More Diverse, Much More Unaffiliated

by Michael Bitzer

With the prior post regarding the end of the 2019 year analysis of North Carolina registered voters, I decided to look at the new voters who registered since the last presidential election in 2016 to see what kind of patterns we might see since the last presidential battle in the Old North State.

Since 2016, over 1.3 million new voters have registered in North Carolina (20 percent of the current 6.8 million active/inactive/temporary registered voters), with unaffiliated status claiming 43 percent of these new voters, Democrats claiming 30 percent of the new registrants, and Republicans taking 26 percent. All other party registrations--Libertarian, Green, and Constitution--totaled one percent.