New congressional districts lean R
Posted July 1, 2011 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2011 8:32 p.m. EDT
The proposed new congressional maps came out today. Overall, it doesn’t look terribly different from its current configuration - the cores of most districts would remain in place. But the changes around the edges would likely give Republicans a big edge in 2012.
A lot of detailed analysis will be written over the next few days about particular districts, but in the broadest sense, what the GOP mapmakers did is redistribute voters who favored McCain in 2008 – not necessarily Republicans, but conservative-leaning voters – to give themselves a foothold in more districts.
In 2008, a majority of voters in 7 of NC’s congressional districts chose McCain. Under the new districts, McCain would have won ten of them – all by right around 55%, give or take a couple of percentage points.
The biggest loser appears to be Democrat Brad Miller, whose new 13th district has lost most of its urban voters in Raleigh and Greensboro. With the addition of deep red Surry and Stokes counties, Miller is unlikely to be reelected in 2012.
Democrat Larry Kissell is the next biggest target. He won the 8th district seat from Republican Robin Hayes in 2008. Under the new map, he loses Democratic voters in Mecklenburg and Cumberland, but picks up solid Republicans in Rowan, Davidson, and Randolph. He, too, faces a very difficult fight in 2012.
Democrat Heath Shuler also appears to be in trouble. The new map would carve the city of Asheville, the heart of his Democratic support, out of his 11th district altogether, attaching it to the very Republican 10th district, and giving him four dark-red mountain counties: Avery, Mitchell, Burke, and Caldwell. His district already leaned R - he won it in 2006 from Republican Charles Taylor - but it would lean a lot harder now.
One other Democrat in an already-precarious district would have the balance tipped against him, too. Mike McIntyre’s 7th district would lose Cumberland, Duplin, and Sampson Counties while picking up Onslow and half of Carteret.
Big changes in urban areas
The biggest urban change would be in Wake County, which would be split among 4 districts. G.K. Butterfield’s 1st district, now up in the northeast, would reach down through Franklin to take the eastern half of Raleigh right up Capitol Blvd., zigzagging through Garner and picking up Zebulon and Knightdale.
Brad Miller is relegated to northern Wake with a little peninsula into North Raleigh. David Price gets Cary, the west, and the airport. Republican Renee Ellmers gets the southern half.
Fayetteville would see big changes, too. McIntyre would no longer be in Cumberland Co at all – it’s Ellmers’ territory in the new map. But Ellmers wouldn’t have Fort Bragg anymore – that would go to Republican Howard Coble, whose 6th district shuffles east and a little south, taking on Lee and Chatham, but losing Rowan and Davidson.
Greensboro would be split between Watt and Coble. Winston-Salem would be split between Watt and Foxx.
Watt gets more of Mecklenburg, gaining the minority voters Kissell lost there.
Districts 1, 4, and 12 would continue to be safe Democrat strongholds. Districts 5, 6, 9, and 10 would continue to be safe R strongholds.
Ellmers’ 2nd district seat, won last year from Democrat Bob Etheridge, would get substantially safer for her. But Walter Jones’s 3rd district would get a little less safe.
Keep in mind: these maps have a long, long way to go before they're enacted. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled at sites around the state on the evening of July 7th.