NC Gerrymanders

The Washington Post recently ran a brief piece on the 10-most gerrymandered districts in America based on the new post-2010 redistricting.  Congratulations to NC republicans who managed to get 3 out our 13 districts on the list.  Basically, among other things, they managed to pack almost all the state’s African-American voters into just a small handful of districts.  It’s all up for legal challenge at the moment, but here’s NC’s 3:

Let’s start with the district I’m sitting in in my office right now:

10. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.): This freshman was the only Republican to win a Democratic seat in North Carolina in 2010, and she got her reward for that upset. The North Carolina GOP took the highly Democratic areas near Raleigh and Fayetteville out of her 2nd district and gave them to Rep. David Price (D). In exchange, they shifted her fan-shaped district west into Rep. Howard Coble’s (R) much-more conservative territory in what is currently the 6th district. (Coble may well retire after his district was split up in several pieces). The result for Ellmers: A district that went 53 percent for President Obama in 2008, under the new lines, would have given him only about 44 percent.

And NC 8:

5. Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.): Kissell essentially got a pass from Republicans in last year’s election, with the national GOP spending basically no money to win his Charlotte-area 8th district. As it turns out, rejiggering his district was much easier and cheaper than dropping $1 million in TV ads. The new 8th district is still a lot of Kissell’s old territory but it trades some of its more Democratic areas near Charlotte and Fayetteville for conservative territory represented by Coble and Rep. Sue Myrick (R) to the northwest. The result is a district that goes from a 52 percent Obama seat to one that would go about 42 percent for the president.

And, lastly, at the #1 most gerrymandered district, NC 13 which I’m looking into when I look across the street from my office window:

1. Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.): Not content to simply make Miller’s 13th district unwinnable – as we knew would happen – North Carolina Republicans eventually decided they would also draw him out of it entirely and into the 4th district with Price. That may actually be a favor to Miller, who stood very little chance of surviving in his north-central North Carolina district and could instead challenge Price in a primary. Democrats 10 years ago drew arms — figuratively speaking — growing out to liberal enclaves in Greensboro, Raleigh and Alamance County. Simply by severing those limbs, the GOP pushed this from a district that went 60 percent for Obama to one that would have gone about 46 percent. They even gave it a new number for effect; it’s now the 6th district.

NC could very well end up a state that gives roughly half its votes to Democratic congressional candidates, but ends up with 75% of its representatives being Republican.  American democracy at its finest (and yes, I’m perfectly aware that Democrats are guilty of such maneuvers as well– just usually not quite this extreme in any given state).


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

3 Responses to NC Gerrymanders

  1. Jason says:

    I’m all for good Iowa-style non-partisan redistricting.

    • UM, Your Dad says:

      I like NCGOP style redistricting so far. 10 wannabe opponents so far and not one lives in the the new 8th. Guess R’s that actually live here are pretty happy with Kissell’s moderate conservatism.

  2. dave.s. says:

    This picture of a Maryland district should put paid to your local pride… NOBODY does it as well as Maryland. Not even John Burton’s famous San Francisco district:

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