North Carolina’s new congressional map shifts two seats toward Democrats

December 3 at 3:48 PM

Like Pennsylvania in 2018, North Carolina has been redrawn. Candidates can now file to run for Congress in the state using new court-approved districts for 2020. According to the Associated Press, state judges said that the new map, drawn last month by Republican legislators, was good enough for immediate use and that there was not time for further study.

The map is likely to add two seats for Democrats in 2020, but it probably won’t end controversy over partisan gerrymandering in the state.

The map used in 2018

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Fayetteville

Wilmington

Fayetteville

Wilmington

Greensboro

Rocky Mount

Greenville

Fayetteville

Wilmington

Greensboro

Rocky Mount

Greenville

Fayetteville

Wilmington

Winston Salem

Greensboro

Rocky Mount

Greenville

Fayetteville

Wilmington

The map thrown out earlier this year limited the influence of Democrats, using two gerrymandering techniques. In Charlotte and areas near Raleigh, Democratic voters were concentrated into the three districts the party won in 2018. In other areas, especially around Greensboro and Fayetteville, Democratic voters were split between districts to make sure they stayed in the minority.

These techniques made North Carolina one of the most gerrymandered maps in the country. In the dozen congressional races that were contested in 2018, Democrats received about half the overall votes, suggesting that an ideally balanced map should favor Democrats in six of the state’s 13 districts, instead of three.

The new map

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Fayetteville

Wilmington

Fayetteville

Wilmington

Greensboro

Rocky Mount

Greenville

Fayetteville

Wilmington

Greensboro

Rocky Mount

Greenville

Fayetteville

Wilmington

Winston Salem

Greensboro

Rocky Mount

Greenville

Fayetteville

Wilmington

The newly adopted map gets closer to an even split. Based on 2016 election results, the new map appears to tilt five districts to Democrats and eight to Republicans.

The two new congressional seats expected to favor Democrats are in the 6th and 2nd districts. The 6th will pool Democrats previously divided among three Republican districts around Greensboro. The new 2nd has been carved out of a Democratic stronghold in Raleigh. There is little change in the 12th District, where Charlotte Democrats and minorities remain packed.

The Democratic seats under the new map are not locks for the party. The 1st, 2nd and 4th districts all lean Democratic by less than five points, meaning they could have competitive races in 2020.

Lean of voters in five statewide 2016 races

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Under the

old map

Under the

new map

Under the old map

Under the new map

Under the old map

Under the new map

Under the old map

Under the new map

The new map also creates a set of districts that are more polarized. Under the previous map, only one seat leaned Republican by more than 15 points, making the seat a virtual lock for the party even in wave elections. In the new map, there are three such seats. The number of districts that lean Republican by less than 10 points will drop from six to three.

Debate over the fairest partisan mix for the state is likely to continue well into 2021. The new map will be used only for a single election, as the state’s congressional districts will get redrawn again following the 2020 Census.

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