When looking at the new North Carolina Senate district map, you can see several examples that look like classic gerrymandering.

However, a little knowledge of the area shows that, in many instances, the districts are drawn to respect two established redistricting criteria: keeping municipalities together and respecting communities of interest.

To see examples of that, let’s look at a couple of county groupings in the Triad.

Detail of 2021 North Carolina State Senate district map showing four Triad counties

Source: North Carolina General Assembly

In the Forsyth-Stokes county grouping, the 32nd District encompasses most of Winston-Salem, while the 31st combines the suburban and rural parts of Forsyth County with Stokes County. That respects the municipal boundaries of Winston-Salem. It also groups urban voters in their own district while putting rural voters together. In this case, most suburban voters are also in the 31st District.

It is a similar story in the Guilford-Rockingham county grouping. The 28th District contains the bulk of Greensboro, while most of the rest of Greensboro is with most of High Point in the 27th. Rural and suburban parts of Guilford County are joined with Rockingham County in the 26th.

The Cumberland-Moore county grouping has a similar division of urban and rural areas. I covered redistricting concerns in that grouping in more detail in a previous research brief.

So, when looking at districts, it is important to remember that avoiding funny shapes is not the only criterion when drawing districts.