Redistricting hearing

WRAL is streaming the hearing by a three-member panel of judges appointed by the state Supreme Court on the 2011 redistricting.

The judges, appointed by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker, are Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul C. Ridgeway, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Joseph N. Crosswhite of Statesville and Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Alma L. Hinton of Halifax County.

Turnout in NC in 2012

A really in-depth look at what happened in the last election. Plenty to chew on.

Via Democracy NC:

Analysis of 30 Subgroups of Voters in Each NC County
Profiles Who Participated in the 2012 Election

A detailed analysis of the 4.5 million North Carolina voters participating in last year’s election shows that Republicans turned out their members at a higher rate than Democrats in 65 of the 100 counties.

On the other hand, the percent of black voters who cast a ballot exceeded the turnout rate for registered whites in 64 counties — and 85% of African-American voters are registered as Democrats.

The statewide gap in participation rates for the major parties was 3 percentage points — 73% of registered Republicans voted, compared to 70% of Democrats. But in 21 counties (mostly west of I-85), Republicans outperformed Democrats by more than 7 points; and in 13 counties (mostly in the east), Democrats outdid Republicans by more than 5 percentage points.

More women voted than men in every single county, and seniors over age 65 outnumbered young voters ages 18 to 25 in all but four counties, each with major universities — Orange, Watauga, Pitt and Durham. Young voters had the lowest participation rate of any age group, except in college counties like Jackson, Pasquotank, Scotland and Guilford and in several eastern counties where African Americans are the majority of voters, including Hertford, Northampton, Bertie and Edgecombe.

The voter participation analysis by the nonpartisan election reform group Democracy North Carolina is based on data provided by the counties to the State Board of Elections. (Some figures are adjusted to account for differences in time delays in data collection and posting on the Board’s website.)

Statewide, 68% of the state’s 6.6 million registered voters cast ballots in 2012, but there’s a wide gap in the turnout rate between the best and worst performing counties. Chatham County, where 76% of registered voters cast ballots, ranked first in turnout — as it did in 2008 — while the military-dependent Onslow County ranked last, with a 53% turnout rate.

“It’s fascinating to see all the variations in performance among age, gender, race and party groups in the counties,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina. “Our state has a long history of low participation, going back to the days of the literacy tests and poll tax. Studying high and low performing groups in counties can help communities improve participation and civic life.”

The two groups with the most enthusiasm to vote in 2012 were African-American women and white Republicans; they each posted a 74% turnout rate, well ahead of the 68% statewide rate. “The presidential election was a polarizing, emotional experience for core supporters of both major candidates,” said Hall. “Candidates, parties and interest groups invested in mobilizing voters and helped them understand that their vote was important for themselves and for society.”

Hall said the split results in the 10 counties with the highest turnout reflects North Carolina’s swing state status: Five went for Republican Mitt Romney (Davie, Person, Moore, Greene and Beaufort) and five went for Democrat Barack Obama (Chatham, Warren, Wake, Granville and Hertford).

Although voters unaffiliated with a political party now outnumber registered Democrats or Republicans in 42 counties, they are less engaged and voted at a lower level than members of the major parties in 97 of the 100 counties (the exceptions are Avery, Bertie and Mitchell). Statewide, 60% of unaffiliated voters cast ballots compared to 70% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans.

The impact of the criminal justice system on the African-American community also shows up in the voting data, Hall said. Women cast 54% of the white votes in 2012, but a remarkable 61% of the black votes, largely because so many black men have been convicted of a felony. North Carolina temporarily suspends a person’s right to vote while the person serves a felony sentence, but Hall said many people believe the suspension is permanent. “This is one more area where education is critical and where barriers have a real impact on participation,” he said.

For the county details of who voted, see this spreadsheet:

For an overview of statewide turnout, see:

2012 Voter Turnout for NC Counties — Some Examples

Chatham, Warren, Wake and Davie: Counties with the highest voter turnout

Onslow, Swain, Robeson and Hoke: Counties with the lowest voter turnout

Warren, Chatham, Wake and Greene: Counties with highest turnout among women

Edgecombe, Wilson, Vance, Pitt and Cumberland: Counties with the largest gap in turnout between women and men

Wake, Chatham, Moore and Davie: Counties with highest turnout for seniors

Cherokee, Gates, Hyde and Robeson: Counties with lowest turnout for seniors

Onslow, Brunswick, Transylvania and Polk: Counties with largest gap between turnout of old and young voters

Warren, Chatham, Person and Granville: Counties with highest turnout for African-American voters

Hoke, Richmond, Gates, Cleveland and Cumberland: Counties where black turnout most exceeds white turnout

Davie, Wake, Johnston and Moore: Counties with highest Republican turnout

Chowan, Nash, Mecklenburg and Buncombe: Counties with the smallest gap between turnout for Republicans and Democrats

Rowan, Forsyth, Harnett and Haywood: Counties with the smallest turnout gap between Republican men and African-American women

Graham, Randolph and Sampson: Counties where Republican turnout exceeded turnout of Unaffiliated voters by more than 20 percentage points

Cross-posted at the Carolina Mercury

NC Redistricting roundup

It’s been a hectic week in NC redistricting news.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice went ahead as expected and pre-cleared North Carolina’s new maps. Char-O story
But just before that there was a revelation that thousands of voters were left out of the maps. GOP leaders downplayed the error saying it was a technical glitch. Get used to that phrase. This WRAL story has lots of links to the details on the areas left out, which appear at first blush to be around mainly Democratic areas.
Now, the lawsuits begin with one filed yesterday and another today. Plaintiffs in the suit filed Thursday include a number of Democrats including a former senator from Fayetteville.

Link to the suit filed Thursday(pdf)

(I’ll post the new suit, brought by a coalition of groups including the state NAACP, the League of Women Voters and Democracy NC as soon as I can get a link.)

Reaction from Around the State:

Folks in Asheville are pretty upset.

Another call for redistricting reform from today’s Char-O editorial:

It may well be legal. But we know it can’t be labeled fair – not when it makes 10 of 13 congressional districts lean Republican in a state that is pretty evenly divided in terms of party preference.

The Winston-Salem Journal notes that lines in Forsyth are among those singled out in one of the suits. The residence of Senator Linda Garrou, one of 44 plaintiffs listed, was drawn out of her current district.

One Forsyth County plaintiff, Hayes McNeill, who is active in the state and local Democratic Party, said that the exclusion of Garrou from her district was “a spiteful thing.”

“These maps are so bad, there has never been as many split precincts on any map of North Carolina,” McNeill said. “A lot of us for years have wanted to see an independent commission do this. This is patently unfair.”

First out date looms — here we go

Tomorrow is the scheduled day for the First Out for the redistricting plans submitted for North Carolina’s congressional and state legislature districts.
First Out is explained by the Justice Department thusly:

The date appearing under the heading “First Out” is the initial date by which the Attorney General must make his determination or inform the jurisdiction that the date will be modified.

It’s still possible DoJ will seek an extension, but I’m going with the idea that we’ll see something very soon. The department tends to publish its rulings on a Monday, so maybe today, maybe next Monday.
This DoJ response will begin the long process of establishing the final districts in the state.
So, here we go.

Department of Justice Section 5 info page
LA Times article on redistricting plans and DoJ
Char-O today

Primary fight brewing after redistricting

If the maps stay the same, it’s looking more and more like two veteran Democratic congressmen could end up vying for the opportunity to represent the good people of the North Carolina 4th Congressional District, which now extends from Burlington to Fayetteville.
From the story in the Indy’s Triangulator blog

When redistricting plans shifted his Raleigh residence into the 4th Congressional District, Congressman Brad Miller, who represents the state’s 13th Congressional District, said he did not envision himself getting into a primary fight with Democratic colleague, David Price of Chapel Hill.

But after taking a hard look at the composition of the new 4th, Miller says he is now strongly considering running for the 4th if the current maps hold. The five-term congressman said neither he nor Price has a right to claim the new district outright.

(Note: I expect at some point soon to have a long talk with Congressman Price about this as well, but for now he didn’t seem to be eager to discuss it.)

New maps are worse for Dems

Why is it not surprising that the fix is worse than the original?
Via Roll Call:

The new map draws Democratic Reps. Brad Miller and David Price together into Price’s 4th district and puts Democratic Reps. Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell together in Kissell’s 8th district. The first version of the map did not pair any incumbents together and the latest, and likely final version, looks substantially different from that draft and the current map. Tar Heel State Republicans attributed the changes made to the new map largely to the requests of Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, an accusation he denied.

Have a look yourself at Congress 2.whatever

The Maps of Mid July

“Elections matter” although perhaps a little condescending is the best way to answer the questions you get when trying to explain the consequences of the newly redrawn state House and Senate districts and the process by which they were created.
Once the final tally came in on the evening of the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2010 this was inevitable. Elections matter and in this case they mattered greatly. As one political consultant put it to me recently, losing big ahead of a redistricting year is “like a hurricane coming ashore at high tide on a full moon.”
In any contest one side being able to set the rules of the game is an overwhelming advantage. Being able to change them midstream is even more advantageous. That’s the case here in North Carolina where the GOP led redistricting will reset the dynamics of the state’s legislative contests. At the same time there’s been a robust effort on the part of the party in power to rewrite as much of the state’s election code as they can get away with. Many of these bills are complex but their goal to reduce both the turnout and impact of votes from traditionally Democratic areas and constituencies is not. At this point, with the cards now on the table, no one could look at what is being done and declare it neutral.
That the attempt to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of the Voter ID bill, the crudest of the vote suppression tools, is coming during a session dedicated to redistricting further underlines that this is a coordinate, partisan effort to consolidate and hold on to power.
The House and Senate maps released yesterday, just days ahead of the session, were full of tricks and traps for specific members of the opposition as well as a highly transparent overall effort to mitigate Democratic voter turnout.
Data from the maps show Democratic voters more tightly packed in their districts than Republicans. Totals of how each district leaned in past races is far out of line with the actual statewide results. The carving up of minority areas, the double-bunking of sitting Democratic legislators into one district and drawing specific legislators out of their districts are tried and true techniques to rig the outcome.
The courts will have their say on this and as they’ve done in the past when Democrats have similarly overreached require some reworking of the specifics, particularly in how the cities with large minority populations are sliced and diced.
Even after the courts get a hold of them and ask for a redrafting here and there the strategy and its consequences in 2012 and years later will be felt and the end result will be the same: for the next decade the state legislature will be more conservative than the state itself.
Statewide races for both state and national office won’t be greatly affected by the legislative maps (they will be affected by the some of the vote suppression efforts) so we’re likely to continue to see the state skew more for Democrats in those races, while the new districts help GOP candidates in races for U.S. Congress and the state House and Senate.
A big turnout in next year’s election could upset these dynamics, but in the non-presidential years the maps will favor the GOP. In 2016 and 2020, whether North Carolina is in play in the presidential contest and the general enthusiasm of the electorate will have a big effect on the makeup of the General Assembly. But in 2014 and 2018 the maps will set the stage for the GOP to win back what might have been lost in prior elections.
Election matter.

Early handicapping NC US House races

The official proposed congressional maps are out and some early analysis says that the districts now represented by Reps. Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler and Brad Miller are decidedly more Republican with Rep. Mike McIntyre’s now leaning more that way. GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers district is shored up with more GOP voters thanks to a shift of Wake County voters that helped Democratic Rep. David Price. Dem Reps. Mel Watt and G. K. Butterfield also emerged with stronger districts.
Source: John Davis Report. h/t MB @nando

Maps, more links to follow