Despite the recent redraw of North Carolina’s congressional maps, the state remains gerrymandered to a degree and the maps will again have to be redrawn in a few years with the added complication of North Carolina gaining a 14th congressional district. Using the 2016 voting district lines from Dave’s Redistricting App, I’ve drawn a map that could be used as a baseline for the 2022 redraw. I disabled partisan information when drawing this map; the point was not to create a perfectly proportional map, but instead to create one that respects communities of interest while meeting the Voting Rights Act requirements for minority representation.
NC01 – This diverse district spans from the northern reaches of the Raleigh metropolitan area to the coastal areas of the Inner Banks. The seat also includes almost all of the city of Greenville, a college town home to Eastern Carolina University. This district would have voted for Obama by 16 percentage points in 2008, although it has shifted slightly to the right since then due to the increasing Republican strength in its rural areas. Although this district is plurality-white (48% white, 43% black), it would almost certainly re-elect incumbent black Democrat G. K. Butterfield. This district would be Safe Democratic.
NC02 – This district, based entirely in northern Wake County, comprises the entirety of the city of Raleigh as well as half of the city of Cary. One of the fastest-growing areas in the country, this strongly Democratic area would have voted for Obama by 21 percentage points in 2008 and has only gone further left since – the only real competition in this Safe Democratic seat would be the Democratic primary due to its substantial minority populations (24% black and 11% Hispanic).
NC03 – Comprising all of the Outer Banks as well as Jacksonville, New Bern, and much of the Inner Banks, this ancestrally Democratic seat might have been competitive in the 1990s but has since become a Republican stronghold. This district would have voted for McCain by 12 percentage points and has become even redder since, especially in the northern Banks areas. Incumbent Republican Greg Murphy would have no issue holding this Safe Republican seat.
NC04 – Based in the Democratic strongholds of Chapel Hill and Durham, this Research Triangle seat would be the second-most Democratic in the state. Despite rural Republican strength, the rest of the seat voted for McCain by 4 points, Orange and Durham voted for Obama by 49 points. The result? A seat that voted for Obama by 30 points in 2008. Former college professor and longtime Democratic incumbent David Price would be a strong favorite to hold this Safe Democratic seat for as long as he wants, although a growing progressive base might threaten a primary challenge for the establishment-friendly incumbent.
NC05 – Stretching from the High Country and most of the Hickory metro area to the northern reaches of the Greensboro-Winston Salem area, this district is ancestrally Republican to the core. As the second-whitest and second-most Republican area in the state, there’s really no debate about its Safe Republican status, and incumbent Republican Virginia Foxx should be able to hold it for as long as she lives.
NC06 – Consisting of all of Democratic-leaning Forsyth County and most of the Democratic stronghold of Guilford County (with the exception of the city of High Point and the southern portions around Greensboro), this seat would have voted for Obama by 18 percentage points. Interestingly, this might be the most Democratic seat in the state to have voted for a Republican; Republican Senator Richard Burr won both Forsyth and Guilford in his 2010 Senate campaign. However, in practice this seat would be Safe Democratic. The Democratic primary, however, would likely be hotly contested, as the seat’s substantial black minority (31%) would hold considerable sway.
NC07 – Stretching from the coastal areas surrounding Wilmington to the southern half of Johnston County, this seat would be a diverse mix of urban and rural areas. This seat would have voted for McCain by 9 percentage points, making it theoretically competitive, but the seat as a whole has shifted right; even the major urban county, New Hanover, leans Republican. Incumbent Republican David Rouzer would be the decided favorite to hold this Likely Republican seat.
NC08 – In a major shift in this map, NC08 shifts from a serpentine seat ranging from Concord to Fayetteville to a strongly suburban seat around the urban core of Charlotte. The portions of Mecklenburg County contained in this seat are the northern reaches, including the city of Huntersville, and the southern suburbs stretching west from affluent Mint Hill. This historic Republican bastion would have voted for McCain by 17 percentage points and even shifts in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus would have little effect in this Safe Republican seat due to the Republican bastion of Union County. This seat would, however, likely create a hostly contested primary between CD9’s incumbent Dan Bishop, a Charlotte resident, and NC8’s incumbent Richard Hudson, a Charlotte native who lives in Concord.
NC09 – This new sandhills-based district would be perhaps the most competitive in the state. Stretching from majority-black Anson to incredibly diverse and rapidly shifting Robeson County, this majority-minority seat would contain substantial black (31%), Native American (9%), and hispanic (9%) populations. Although this seat voted for Obama by 10 percentage points in 2008, this region has experienced seismic shifts in the last decade and would likely have narrowly voted for Trump. Despite this, the lack of local elected Republicans, as well as the ancestral Democratic strength, would make this seat likely Leans Democratic; Fayetteville Senator Ben Clark, a black Democrat, would likely be a strong candidate if he were to run here. A wild card here would be incumbent Dan Bishop, who lives in Charlotte but showcased abnormal strength in western portions of the old NC09 in the recent special election. A strong advocate for Lumbee recognition, he might be a credible candidate if he were to move to the seat.
NC10 – This seat, concentrated in exurbs of Charlotte and the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, would be the most Republican district in the state. Despite a sizable black population in Gastonia and a respectable Democratic presence in Hickory, one of the larger cities in the state, this seat is rock-ribbed Republican to the core; it voted for McCain by 25 percentage points. Incumbent Patrick McHenry, a likely future Speaker candidate for House Republicans, would have no issue holding this Safe Republican seat.
NC11 – This mountain seat had historically been hotly contested by both parties for decades, owing to a strong rural presence from Democrats. However, as I wrote last month, the 2010s have seen the rural areas shift strongly to the Republican Party; despite liberal strength in Asheville, this seat has become out of reach for even the most conservative Democrat. Although this seat would have voted for McCain by only 7 percentage points in 2008, it would have backed Trump by double-digits in 2016. Despite the retirement of incumbent Republican firebrand Mark Meadows, this seat would be Likely Republican.
NC12 – Based entirely in Charlotte, NC12 would be the single-most Democratic seat in the state; Obama would have won this plurality-black seat by 51 percentage points in 2008. Although Republicans have historically maintained a credible local party, having strong mayoral candidates almost every cycle, this seat has never been in doubt and incumbent Democrat Alma Adams would romp any challenger in this Safe Democratic seat.
NC13 – Anchored by the historically Republican bastions of Davidson and Randolph, this conservative seat would be one of the safest in the state; McCain would have won it by 23 percentage points. The only area of Democratic strength here resides in High Point, a moderately Democratic city of over 100,000 people. However, the rest of the district is just too red for this to make a difference, and incumbent Republican Ted Bud would be set for life in this Safe Republican seat.
NC14 – Likely the best chance for a Democratic pickup, this seat comprises the southern third of Wake County, including half of the city of Cary and well as all of Apex. Democratic-leaning Chatham County, a mix of college suburbs and white working class industrial areas, provides a secondary area of support for Democrats to build off of. However, Republicans also have a stronghold in Johnston County as well as the reddening reddening rural counties of Lee and Harnett. This seat would have voted for McCain by 9 percentage points, and competing swings would likely keep this seat around that point; without a Republican incumbent, however, this new Leans Republican seat would likely be contested by both parties.
Summary – This map would likely elect 8 Republicans and 6 Democrats, a relatively fair split for a state that leans Republican. Competitive seats like NC09 and NC14 would provide a level of competitiveness for the map, and even a few seats like NC07 and NC11 could be competitive. No map is perfect, and some on both sides will surely find issues to complain about, but this is about as fair a map as you can ask for. If you want to look at the map yourself, you can click this link to explore it in Dave’s Redistricting App.