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Coloring outside the lines

With ink barely dry on the House's budget proposal, many lawmakers in Raleigh are turning their attention to the upcoming redistricting fight that will soon consume the General Assembly.  What does this mean for you? Well, it depends what you look like, at least according to an article this morning on the website POLITICO.

For the uninitiated, redistricting simply refers to the redrawing of districts from which public officials are elected.  Members of the United States House of Representatives, the North Carolina Senate and the North Carolina House of Representatives are elected by the voters who live in districts, and many county commissioners, school board members, and city council members are elected by districts as well.  This happens once every ten years, right after the census data is released.

For the past century or so, Democrats were in charge of the state house, and therefore drove the redistricting effort.  But since the Republican managed to grab the majority in last year’s elections, they are running the show. 

We don’t have the results yet, but the predictions are not pretty – at least if you care about equal representation. 

According to Rep. McHenry, “It’s politically probable that there will be a new minority influence district. … It’s logical based on the demographics of our state.”

But is it really? There is some serious doubt that the census data can back-up such claims.  Perhaps what is really going on is more back-room politics than wide-open analysis.

According to the POLITCO article:

Well-connected North Carolina GOP sources recently said there is “conceptual” agreement among key players for a third district that would have a substantial black population. It would be centered in Fayetteville-based Cumberland County and include numerous mostly rural adjacent counties, many of which are now represented by McIntyre.

Although McHenry said blacks are “too dispersed to achieve” 50 percent in a district, they most likely would produce a majority-minority district when Hispanics and the area’s large Lumbee Indian tribe are included.

If you combine this with the probability that the two African-American members of Congress will probably keep their minority-majority districts, we have the perfect storm for keeping the low and moderate income communities lumped together while allowing the more affluent communities to be combined.  If that doesn't seem like a problem to you, which district do you think will get the most money over the next ten years: The poor one, or the rich one?

Smart money always follows smart money.

For the uninitiated, redistricting simply refers to the redrawing of districts from which public officials are elected.  Members of the United States House of Representatives, the North Carolina Senate and the North Carolina House of Representatives are elected by the voters who live in districts and many county commissioners, school board members, and city council members are elected by districts as well.  This happens once every ten years, right after the census data is released.

For the past century or so, Democrats were in charge of the state house, and therefore drove the redistricting effort.  But since the Republican managed to grab the majority in last year’s elections, they are running the show. 

We don’t have the results yet, but the predictions are not pretty – at least if you care about equal representation. 

According to Rep. McHenry, “It’s politically probable that there will be a new minority influence district. … It’s logical based on the demographics of our state.”  

 

But is it really? There is some serious doubt that the census data can back-up such claims.  Perhaps what is really going on is more back-room politics than wide-open analysis.

According to the POLITCO article, well-connected North Carolina GOP sources recently said there is “conceptual” agreement among key players for a third district that would have a substantial black population. It would be centered in Fayetteville-based Cumberland County and include numerous mostly rural adjacent counties, many of which are now represented by McIntyre.

 

Although McHenry said blacks are “too dispersed to achieve” 50 percent in a district, they most likely would produce a majority-minority district when Hispanics and the area’s large Lumbee Indian tribe are included.