This is the North Carolina State Senate edition of my “2020s Redistricting” series. Data in DRA has been modified to reflect 2020 population projections. You can see my proposed 2020s congressional map HERE.
Drawing maps for the North Carolina General Assembly is challenging (and also restrictive) due to the Whole Counties provision of the state constitution. Legislators in the past also had to draw districts to conform to the Voting Rights Act. Given recent court decisions, I have decided to draw a map which takes race out of the equation completely. This, of course, might lead to other constitutional challenges (see SD-1 below).
With that in mind, I have also drawn the map the way Republican lawmakers might do so should they be in control of the General Assembly in 2021 (and assuming partisan gerrymandering is still allowed). Despite surging growth in Democratic urban counties and stagnation in Republican rural ones, the result is a map only slightly more favorable to Team Blue. The districts are reviewed below (partisan results once again reflect the two-party vote).
1 – Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell, Washington
Norm Sanderson, R-Pasquotank
The 1st loses Beaufort County and adds Pamlico, Washington, Tyrrell, and Bertie counties. This last one is particularly controversial because it has the highest percentage of black residents in the state. Sanderson (should he still be in the State Senate) might be vulnerable in a primary, because almost all of the district except for his home county of Pamlico is new to him. This is an ancestrally very Democratic district but should be likely GOP now.
3 – Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Vance, Warren
Erica Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton
The 3rd is no longer majority black, but is still safe Democratic and should keep electing a black senator.
4 – Edgecombe, Franklin, Nash
Angela Davis, D-Nash
Unfortunately, the Whole County Provision pretty much requires drawing something like this that wastes a bunch of GOP votes. The saving grace for Republicans might be the VRA – this district includes majority black Edgecombe County in a district that’s majority white.
5 – Martin, Pitt
Don Davis, D-Pitt
The Whole County Provision also requires combining light blue Pitt with another county, in this case Martin. Again – a whole lot of wasted GOP votes.
6 – Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow (part)
Harry Brown, R-Onslow
The current incumbent (and a good possibility to succeed Phil Berger as Senate pro tem) lives just outside this district, but that can be easily corrected. This is inelastic GOP territory which is practically wave-proof.
7 – Wayne, Wilson
Louis Pate, R-Wayne AND Rick Horner, R-Wilson
This is a marginally GOP district at the presidential level where unfortunately white flight is a real problem. The competition here will be fierce. Obviously, Democrats will need strong turnout from black voters to win here.
8 – Brunswick (part), New Hanover (part)
Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick
This is an educated, fairly affluent seat on the coast where Trump 2016 slightly underperformed Romney 2012. Democrats will still need a wave or a scandal to win here.
9 – Onslow (part), New Hanover (part), Pender (part)
Michael Lee, R-New Hanover
This seat trended rightward last year and should continue to do so in the future as it burgeons with coastal conservative retirees. Not safe GOP territory, but getting there.
10 – Bladen, Cumberland (part), Sampson
Brent Jackson, R-Sampson AND Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland
District 10 shifts to the west and becomes a seat based on rural areas near Fayetteville. This is a fairly inelastic GOP seat and the chances of it returning to its historically Democratic roots are very questionable.
11 – Johnston
Another seat where clever GOP gerrymandering is thwarted by the Whole Counties Provision. A lot of GOP votes are wasted in this 65.7% Trump seat, which is unfortunate because the Triangle and Eastern NC could really use some reinforcement from Johnston County. Best case scenario for the GOP? The county grows much faster than expected, forcing it outside of the 5% constitutionally permitted population deviation.
12 – Harnett, Wake (part)
Tamara Barringer, R-Wake AND Ronald Rabin, R-Harnett
District 12 loses Lee and instead takes in a number of precincts in Southern Wake County. The Wake portion of this district voted for Trump but this is an area that could get bluer with time.
15 – Wake (part)
Chad Barefoot, R-Wake
This is about as safe a Trump district one can draw entirely in Wake County, and will probably get less and less safe with time. In this and other educated, suburban districts, the Romney number is probably only attainable in a GOP wave year.
16 – Wake (part)
Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake
This vote sink contains Morrisville, Cary, and Raleigh and has many white liberals who work in high tech. Obviously, it’s safe Democratic.
17 – Wake (part)
Mitt Romney was pretty much a perfect fit for this area in 2012, and voters here still rejected him for four more years of Obama. Then, in 2016 the GOP’s numbers further tanked with Trump heading the ticket. Republicans will need a wave, and even that might not be enough.
19 – Hoke, Lee, Moore
Ben Clark, D-Cumberland
This combination of counties in the central part of the state makes for a safe GOP seat. The incumbent Ben Clark is black and might be the most conservative Democrat in the Senate. This won’t be nearly enough to make him palatable to deep red Moore County, which makes up almost half of the district.
20 – Durham (part)
Floyd McKissick, D-Durham
A district centered on downtown Durham, it’s only plurality black and the most pro-Clinton seat in the state. Trump almost sunk into single digits here. Obviously, it’s more than safe for any black Democrat.
22 – Chatham, Durham (part)
Mike Woodard, D-Durham
This district wraps around the 20th and takes in the remainder of Durham as well as light blue Chatham County. It’s safe Democratic and is trending away from the GOP.
23 – Caswell, Orange, Person
Valerie Foushee, D-Orange
Despite containing three counties (two of them rural and conservative) this district is absolutely dominated by the politics of ultra-liberal Chapel Hill and should continue to elect a progressive Democrat.
24 – Alamance, Guilford (part)
Rick Gunn, R-Alamance
This district trades in part of Randolph County for part of Guilford and becomes significantly bluer, but should still be a fairly easy GOP hold. It could still fall in a wave, though.
25 – Anson, Richmond, Robeson (part), Scotland, Union (part)
Tom McInnis, R-Richmond
An Obama district that Democrats will probably have to take back to win the majority under this map. Given current trends, that might be tough – especially with a GOP incumbent.
27 – Guilford (part)
Trudy Wade, R-Guilford
This seat in suburban Guilford used to be safe GOP, but is more competitive in the age of Trump. Still a seat that favors Republicans, but perhaps not wave-proof.
28 – Guilford (part)
Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford
The (only plurality black) Guilford vote sink, which attempts to pick up as many Democratic precincts in Greensboro as possible. A black Democrat would be strongly favored in a primary here.
29 – Guilford (part), Montgomery, Randolph
Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph
Despite taking in much of High Point (which could raise potential VRA issues), this district is more than safe for any Republican.
30 – Rockingham, Stokes, Surry
Phil Berger, R-Rockingham
Phil Berger’s home county of Rockingham loses its portion of Guilford County and trades it for much more Republican Surry and Stokes counties, making it a solid GOP seat.
31 – Forsyth (part), Yadkin
Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth
A seat based in the Winston-Salem suburbs which changes only marginally from its predecessor. It’s safe territory for any Republican.
33 – Davidson, Davie
Andrew Brock, R-Davie AND Cathy Dunn, R-Davidson
Combining Davidson and Davie counties creates the most pro-Trump seat in the state. Safe GOP territory, obviously.
36 – Cabarrus
Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus
Under current population projections, Cabarrus County falls just within the 5% deviation subjecting it to the Whole County Provision, so it gets its own district here. Safe GOP, but this seat is gradually getting bluer.
39 – Mecklenburg (part)
Dan Bishop, R-Mecklenburg
Look at those partisan numbers – Trump really tanked here. Unfortunately, this is about as safe a GOP seat as one can draw entirely in Mecklenburg County, and it’s a swing seat.
40 – Mecklenburg (part)
A western Charlotte seat that is the most racially diverse in the entire state. Obviously, the general election winner will be determined in the Democratic primary.
41 – Lincoln, Mecklenburg (part)
David Curtis, R-Lincoln AND Joel Ford, D-Mecklenburg AND Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg
North Mecklenburg Republicans get some welcome assistance from ultra-conservative rural Lincoln County. For now, it’s safe GOP territory.
45 – Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell (part), Watauga, Wilkes
Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga AND Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes
Safe GOP again. (Have you noticed that Republican votes are increasingly packed in this part of the state?)
48 – Buncombe (part), Henderson, Transylvania
Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson
Exchanges some bluer precincts in Buncombe County with the most red ones. Other than that, no changes and a fairly safe GOP seat.
50 – Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain
Jim Davis, R-Cherokee
Unlike every other district, the 50th doesn’t change at all. At nearly 68% Trump, it’s hard to see any Democrat having a shot here.
The breakdown: 31 Romney seats, 32 Trump seats. Democrats need to hold all the Clinton seats and win 3 Trump seats to roll back the GOP’s supermajorities; they need to hold all the Clinton seats and win 7 Trump seats to break even, win 8 to take a majority.
I would welcome any feedback, especially when it comes to identifying potential VRA issues. Unlike my congressional map, I’m not at all confident that this is the strongest map for Republicans, especially in the eastern part of the state. I’ll draw another map incorporating any recommendations I receive here, so let me know if you have comments or any questions.