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. I’ve previously created both a Republican gerrymander and a fair map for North Carolina, so the final map in this series is a Democratic gerrymander.
Although it is much harder to create a Democratic gerrymander than a Republican one, it’s not impossible – and this one would elect, at minimum, 9 Democrats in a 14-member map. How was this done? The answer is simple. First, you start with the two mandated VRA seats, NC1 and NC12. Beyond that, everything is fair game. NC11 is the most unsightly of the bunch, stretching from Asheville to the piedmont cities of Hickory, Gastonia, and Shelby; it was drawn to ensure a majority of its population voted for Barack Obama in 2008; while this seat would have voted for Republicans in 2016, it is drawn to be a best-possible seat for Democrats.
NC04, NC06, and NC13 were drawn to split the Democratic vote relatively evenly; each seat gave Obama between 54-55% of the vote, and the urban anchors in each seat outweigh the strongly Republican rurals. Additionally, these seats protect incumbents; David Price remains safe in NC04, while the winner of the NC06 race in 2020 would be safe. NC13 would be a new seat but very safely Democratic.
In the Charlotte area, the seats were drawn to pack as many votes as possible in NC8; which would have given John McCain 62% of the vote; NC12 would have given Obama 66%, while NC09 would have given him 53%. Despite recent trends in the eastern portion away from Democrats, the seat was drawn to include as much of the rapidly-bluing Charlotte suburbs as possible. The Mecklenburg portion of NC09 would have given Obama 53% in 2008 and likely voted for Hillary Clinton by much more in 2016.
In the far east of the state, the Republican vote sink of NC03 would have given McCain 60% of the vote. In contrast, NC07 would have given Obama 55% thanks to including all of Cumberland County, all of Democratic-leaning Wilmington, as well as majority-minority Democratic precincts in the Republican-leaning counties Sampson, Wayne, and Duplin that would have given Obama 57% of the vote. The two Wake County seats, NC02 and NC14, were drawn to split the vote evenly; both would have been won by 53% of the vote by Obama and would have swung left since. While NC02 includes historically Republican northwestern and southeastern Wake, the rapidly-growing cities of Cary and Apex would carry Democrats, while in NC14 the precincts included are majority-minority and would have given Obama 68% of the vote, enough to outweigh the reddish lean of the rurals, and the inclusion of portions of Pitt County also provides a secondary area of Democratic support.
In practice, Democrats would be completely safe in 9 out of the 14 seats, with 11 operating as a swing seat reliant heavily on Democratic turnout in Asheville. The seats would also protect the current Democratic incumbents and provide all wings of the party with places to gain – and thanks to the current Democratic-controlled Supreme Court, led by former liberal activist Anita Earls, it might hold up in court.
If you want to take a closer look at the map, you can click this link to explore it in Dave’s Redistricting App.