North Carolina’s New Senate Districts – Phil Berger/Don Vaughan Double-bunked; Pete Brunstetter/Linda Garrou Double-bunked

by johndavis, July 14, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011       Vol. IV, No. 14     Updated North Carolina’s New Senate Districts – Updated Phil Berger/Don Vaughan Double-bunked; Pete Brunstetter/Linda Garrou Double-bunked; Total Districts Won by McCain over Obama go from 30 to 34 Under New Maps John Davis Political Report Subscribers First to Receive Comprehensive NC Senate Analysis The
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011       Vol. IV, No. 14     Updated

North Carolina’s New Senate Districts - Updated

Phil Berger/Don Vaughan Double-bunked; Pete Brunstetter/Linda Garrou Double-bunked; Total Districts Won by McCain over Obama go from 30 to 34 Under New Maps

John Davis Political Report Subscribers First to Receive Comprehensive NC Senate Analysis

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Key Political Conclusions

Click here to see the New NC Senate Map Proposed by the NC General Assembly

  • UPDATE:  14 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have ½ of the state’s 6.1 million voters.  Under the new state Senate maps, half of the 50-member Senate will represent all or part of those 14 counties.  The counties are: Mecklenburg, Wake, Guilford, Forsyth, Cumberland, Durham, Buncombe, New Hanover, Gaston, Union, Cabarrus, Pitt, Catawba and Iredell.
  • UPDATE:  The other half of the 50-member Senate will represent all or part of 86 counties.
  • UPDATE:  Mecklenburg County has 10% of the 50 Senate districts; Wake another 10%.
  • UPDATE:  During the past decade, 87 counties had a combined net population growth of 481,376, about the same as Wake and Mecklenburg combined.
  • We are witness to the urbanization of political power in North Carolina.
  • Under the new Senate districts, the majority party will likely be Republican for the remainder of the decade as there are 34 districts won by US Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race, 29 districts won by State Sen. Robert Pittenger in his 2008 race for lieutenant governor, and 26 districts won by US Sen. Elizabeth Dole in her last race against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in 2008.
  • The GOP advantage in the number of Senate districts favoring the election of a Republican and the likely first ever Republican fund-raising advantage argue for a long-term Republican Senate majority in North Carolina.
  • In 2008, there were 30 Senate districts that gave McCain a 50% or greater win, with 22 districts giving McCain a 55%-or-greater win.
  • Under the new maps, there are 34 Senate districts that would have given McCain a 50%-or-greater win, with 27 that would give McCain a 55%-or-greater win.

Surprises & Interesting Notes

  • Sen. Phil Berger, a Rockingham County Republican and Senate President Pro Tem, is double-bunked with Sen. Don Vaughan, a Guilford County Democrat.  Burger appears to have an advantage as the district would have voted for McCrory (51% to 45% Perdue) and McCain (57% to 43% Obama).
  • Sen. Pete Brunstetter, a Forsyth County Republican, is double-bunked with Sen. Linda Garrou, a Forsyth County Democrat.  Brunstetter appears to have an advantage as the district would have voted for McCrory (56% to 41% Perdue) and McCain (61% to 39% Obama).
  • Sen. Debbie Clary, a Cleveland County Republican, is double-bunked with fellow Republican Sen. Warren Daniel from Burke County. Clary announced last month her intentions to resign.  Her replacement will have to face Sen. Daniel.
  • Sen. Jerry Tillman, a Randolph County Republican, has been double-bunked with fellow Republican Sen. Harris Blake from Moore County.  Randolph County will have the advantage in the Republican primary.
  • CORRECTED:  Only two Senate Democrats were double-bunked: Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange) and Sen. Bob Atwater (D-Chatham) reside in the new Senate District 23, including all of Orange and Chatham counties.

Most Vulnerable Incumbents

  • The most vulnerable Democrat senators, not counting those who are double bunked with a Republican, are Sen. Doug Berger from Franklin County, Sen. Bill Purcell from Scotland County, and Sen. Stan White from Dare County (Sen. Basnight’s old seat).
  • The most vulnerable Republican senator, not counting those who are double bunked, is Sen. Wesley
  • Meredith from Cumberland County (Sen. Tony Rand’s old seat).
  • There are 9 majority-minority districts where the minority voting age population is 50% or greater.  One district, Senate District 13, combines Robeson County and Columbus County to achieve a minority district that includes American Indian, Hispanic and African-Americans.

Legal Limits Established by GOP Stephenson Decision Limit GOP Gerrymandering

Republicans achieved one of the greatest political coups in North Carolina politics in 2003 by successfully litigating the radically gerrymandered maps drawn by the Democratic legislative majority following the 2000 census.

The Stephenson v. Bartlett decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court established new requirements for legislative redistricting in North Carolina that, ironically, now limit the ability of Republicans to do to Democrats what they have done to Republicans for many decades: radical partisan gerrymandering.

In 2001, North Carolina Senate Democrats drew themselves 28 friendly districts and gave the GOP Senators 16. There were 6 swing Senate districts.  Likewise, the North Carolina House Democrats drew themselves 59 friendly districts and gave the GOP 47.  There were 14 swing House districts.

Ultimately, after two years of legal filings, hearings and rulings in the Stephenson v. Bartlett case, the courts in 2003 leveled the playing field. Among the 50 Senate districts approved in 2003, 24 favored Democrats, 22 favored Republicans, and 4 were swing districts.  Among the 120 House districts approved in 2003, 51 favored Democrats and 55 favored Republicans.  There were 14 Swing districts.

This year, the Stephenson case has forced Republicans to comply with the following:

Voting Rights Act districts must be drawn first to ensure compliance with federal law.

  • Population deviations must be within plus-or-minus 5% of the ideal district population.
  • Creating districts within counties (urban counties) or by combining whole counties is required until it is no longer possible to create a district without using a part of a county.
  • Example:  Wake County now has 5 senate districts, 4 within the county and one in combination with all of Franklin County.  Mecklenburg County has 5 districts, all within the county lines.

Before the Stephenson case, legislative maps in North Carolina looked more like a 1000-piece puzzle. After the Stephenson case, legislative maps in North Carolina look more like a state map of the counties.  See the Legislative Guide to Redistricting for all law relating to remapping.

Sophisticated Mapping Technology Allows Long-range Maps

As with the congressional maps released two weeks ago, the changes in the new Senate maps are as politically significant as they are subtle, illustrating the extraordinary sophistication of today’s remapping technology.

Adding to the likelihood that Republicans will keep the Senate majority for the remainder of the decade is the fact that today’s remapping technology allows districts to be drawn with population growth projections.

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