New at CJO: Redistricting could lead to closer races in 3rd, 6th N.C. congressional districts

David Bass reports for Carolina Journal Online about the impact of redistricting on Republican incumbents running in the 3rd and 6th congressional districts.

As a not-necessarily-wise commentator observed last July:

Observers should avoid the additional mistake of framing the merits of the new maps in terms of their likely impacts on a single election involving current incumbents. Could Republicans swing as many as four races from the “D” column to the “R” column with the new maps? Potentially. But that outcome is certain only in Republicans’ wishes and Democrats’ nightmares. That outcome assumes that Republicans would hold all existing districts and pick up every targeted Democratic seat. Elections rarely follow such a one-sided course.

Would the new maps guarantee that Republicans could hold a 10-3 — or even an 8-5 — advantage in North Carolina congressional elections for the next decade? Hardly. To make some districts “more” Republican, it’s necessary to make other districts “less” Republican.

A GOP representative other than Walter Jones would face a stiff battle to win the new version of the 3rd District. Piedmont districts previously packed with Republicans, thanks to Democratic mapmakers in 2001, would have more Democrats now. Those elections would no longer represent the slam-dunk victories the GOP has counted on for the past decade.

Wake Forest University political scientist John Dinan concluded recently that “the proposed map would increase the chance that a district could be won by the party not currently holding the district” in eight of the 13 districts. Republicans now hold the seats in four of the eight districts Dinan labels as more competitive under the proposed plan.

In other words, the new map could give Republicans a 10-3 advantage under the absolute best circumstances for the GOP. But another Democratic tide like the one witnessed in 2008 could allow Democrats to build just as large an advantage within the state’s congressional delegation.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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