Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Brief NC Candidate Filing Update (updated regularly)

 by Christopher Cooper

Candidate filing in North Carolina began Monday, December 4 at noon and continues until Friday, December 15 at noon. This filing season is important--arguably more important in many cases than the General Election-- so I'm going to try to get in the habit of posting brief daily regular updates throughout this period for those who want to keep track of how the candidate fields are shaping up. These updates will be quick and the prose will be....unadorned.

Here's the update through December 13 (posted on December 14). 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Candidate Filing and the Illusion of Choice

by Christopher Cooper

If you want to understand how you will be governed in 2025, the time to pay attention is now.

Candidate filing for the 2024 election in North Carolina kicks off today (Monday, December 4). From now until the end of filing on Friday, December 15th at noon, North Carolinians who want to run for elected office can fill out some forms, pay one percent of the salary for that office, and become a candidate. Of course, few of them do this quietly--there's usually an announcement, a web site, a social media blast, and a press release that accompanies the official application.

Although it might be tempting to discount these announcements as "just politics," this is the time where the lion's share of outcomes for the 2024 election are being determined.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Barometer or Bellwether? Analyzing Ohio's Proposition 1

By Susan Roberts

Just days ago, the citizens of Ohio passed Issue 1, the latest in a string of state constitutional protections for access to reproductive rights and access to abortion. By a margin of 56.6 to 43.4 percent, Ohioans amended their state constitution to support reproductive freedom with access to abortion being only one item in language considered having “reasonable limits.” The victory was even sweeter for pro-choice Ohioans since only three months earlier, they defeated an effort by the Republican state legislature to raise the threshold to amend from a simple majority to a sixty-percent vote margin.  Remarkably, this vote was virtually identical to the vote on Issue 1's outcome, with 56.5 to 43.5 voting not to raise the threshold.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

About that New York Times/Siena Poll

 by Christopher Cooper

Two days before the 2023 elections that will decide  the next Governors of Mississippi and Kentucky, control of the Virginia and New Jersey legislatures, and the leaders of municipal governments in North Carolina and other states, the political world was gnashing teeth over....a poll about the 2024 Presidential election.

The New York Times/Siena poll of six battleground states (excluding North Carolina, but I digress...) showed Donald Trump with a commanding lead over Joe Biden in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and within the margin of error in Wisconsin. It also showed Trump garnering support from almost a quarter of African American voters. After reading the results, it seemed as if every Democrat in America commenced to panicking and trashing the New York Times while everyone with a closet full of MAGA hats sang the praises of the New York Times and expressed faith in public opinion polls. Strange times we're living in.

My takeaway: this poll reinforces that either Joe Biden or Donald Trump could win the 2024 Presidential election. That's it. Nothing more, and nothing less. Trump is not suddenly a favorite in 5 battleground states and he's certainly not up by 11 percentage points in Nevada. Nor is Biden favored in those states. 

So, why am I pouring a large bucket of cold water on the poll aftermath?

Monday, October 23, 2023

Quick Links About North Carolina Redistricting

by Christopher Cooper

As readers of this blog are no doubt aware, new maps dropped for North Carolina's congressional, state house and state senate districts last week. All four of us have been busy trying to understand what these maps might mean for representation in the Old North State. Here are a few quick links, graphs and tables that we hope will help others trying to do the same.

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: https://www.carolinajournal.com/video/western-carolinas-chris-cooper-offers-2023-n-c-legislative-session-progress-report/ 

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. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

With Stein Officially In for NC Governor, Can He Replicate Cooper's Success?

By Michael Bitzer

With the official announcement by North Carolina's Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein of seeking the state's chief executive office, comparisons are being made to the current incumbent's performance and how Stein can replicate those two successful runs for governor.

In 2016 and 2020, Democrat Roy Cooper was able to unseat an incumbent governor (49 percent against Republican Pat McCrory's 48 percent) and successful defend (with some breathing room at 51.5 percent) his re-election against Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest. In those same elections, Stein was able to secure the AG's office, but in 2020, he did so with the barest of margins of victory of any Council of State executive officer winning (50.13 percent). In 2016, Stein won his first bid with 50.3 percent of the vote

As Miles Coleman has noted, North Carolina's gubernatorial election will be one of the few in the nation in the presidential election, and will be the "marquee" contest. Sabato's Crystal Ball has already classified the contest as a 'toss-up.'