OF GERRYMANDERING, DISENFRANCHISEMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SELF-DETERMINATION

March 9, 2021
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Consider this from our latest poll (February 22-25 statewide CPRNC poll of 500 registered NC voters)

We’ve long argued that the North Carolina legislative Democrats, Liberals, and Mainstream Media outlets (we acknowledge we’re repeating ourselves) who cry loudest about the alleged “disenfranchisement” of Democratic voters created by the “gerrymandered” General Assembly districts that Democratic Judges imposed on the state by judicial fiat, arrive at their support of an “independent” redistricting commission from a place of disingenuous partisan political expediency.

A majority of these same legislative Democrats, Liberals and Mainstream Media outlets happen to call North Carolina’s largest counties home.  You’re probably aware that this group of comrades generally argues for some version of home rule that empowers their duly elected local government with the right to “raise their own taxes”, “pass their own gun restrictions” and “adopt their own social agenda.”  This grousing about infringements on their right to self-determination usually is accompanied by a healthy dose of grandiloquence tinged with implied or express condescension about the bumpkin conservative reformers bumbling around the General Assembly.  The most infamous example being the current Mayor of Raleigh’s decision to take her dog to urinate on the General Assembly building, but we digress.

Liberals and progressives in North Carolina claim to believe elections ought to take place in fair districts with no taint of partisan gerrymandering and that officials elected in these districts should have broad autonomy to govern as they see fit.

In the Carolina Partnership for Reform’s recent poll of major state policy issues, we tested public opinion on granting local governments more autonomy to set tax rates and policy.  The results were clear, by a 27 percentage point margin, voters preferred for State Government to set policies and tax rates instead of local governments.  There was an interesting difference among partisans on the issue with Unaffiliated voters evenly divided on the issue and with Democrats and Republicans united in opposition to local governments setting policy. Interestingly, even urban voters opposed giving urban areas more autonomy to set policy and tax rates.

Given the limited support for granting more autonomy to local governments, we decided to study a fundamental premise of this argument:  North Carolina’s big, Democratic counties have governments that are representative of their citizens.  If you are relying on the liberal Mainstream Media for your news, what we found will shock you.

First, we looked at North Carolina’s two largest counties Mecklenburg and Wake.  Collectively, they’re home to more than 2 million North Carolinians, over 20% of our state’s total population.  Over 400,000 residents of Mecklenburg and Wake County voted for Donald Trump for President.  Even with the Republican candidate for President winning about 35% of the two-party vote in 2020, the county commission districts in our two largest counties are so grotesquely gerrymandered that not a single Republican currently serves on the Mecklenburg or Wake County commissions.  Democrats control 6 more seats than you’d expect if the seat distribution mirrored the 2020 Presidential vote.

Looking a bit further, the next five largest counties in North Carolina, representing approximately another 18% our state’s citizens, demonstrate a similar pattern of partisan gerrymandering with Democrats holding 77% of the county commission seats – 5 extra seats – while winning only 64% of the two-party Presidential vote in 2020.  The only county to buck this trend of Democratic overrepresentation is Forsyth County where Democrats hold one less commission seat than the two-party distribution of the Presidential vote projects.

Totaling it up, in North Carolina’s seven largest counties, home to 40% of our state’s citizens, the Republican candidate for President in 2020 won about 35% of the two-party vote. Yet a mere 16% – only 8 of 51 county commissioners – are Republicans, ten less than a distribution of the county commission seats based on the 2020 Presidential vote implies should be elected.  If North Carolina Liberals simply apply their own redistricting gerrymandering standard to these local governments, there is no question they are unconstitutional Democratic gerrymanders.

Which brings us back full circle to our longstanding suspicion that cynical partisan political expediency drives North Carolina legislative Democrats, Liberals, and Mainstream Media outlets in their support for non-partisan redistricting commissions.

Our recent public opinion survey found strong across-the-board public backing – overall 63% Support, only 27% Oppose – for implementing a non-partisan redistricting commission to draw city council, school board and county commission districts across the state.  This would be a good chance for leftists and progressives in North Carolina to prove us wrong about their redistricting commission motives by asking legislative Republicans to work with them to replace Democratic gerrymanders with fair, representative districts for local governments.

If a non-partisan redistricting process works for local governments in North Carolina, it could in time pave the way for a non-partisan legislative redistricting process.  But if North Carolina legislative Democrats, Liberals, and Mainstream Media outlets don’t aggressively pursue non-partisan local government redistricting reform, we will all have proof that the crying and gnashing of teeth about a non-partisan legislative redistricting commission is nothing but a disingenuous partisan political ploy.


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