by Sam Hieb
Sorting out what last week’s election means–especially since North Carolina Republicans lost their General Assembly supermajority.
In the N&O, Colin Campbell argues the urban-rural divide grew wider:
North Carolina’s urban-rural divide became a chasm in this month’s election — at least in the state legislature.
Republicans suffered huge losses in urban counties, likely leaving the party with only two or three representatives from the two biggest counties: Wake and Mecklenburg. But Democrats fared poorly in many rural legislative districts, despite spending big money in races considered competitive. Outside of the urban areas, the expected “blue wave” was just a tiny ripple.
This shift has big policy implications for our state. Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte will have diminished clout in the new legislature with hardly any members of the majority party there to represent urban interests. The House will have a new top budget writer after Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, was defeated.
And then there are suburbs. JLF chair John Hood says:
Here’s the situation in a nutshell. Even in a midterm election, there are swing voters. You’ll find them all over the place, but they are disproportionately located in inner suburbs. They constitute only a few percentage points of the electorate, but that’s enough to tip close races one way or the other — and with respect to the suburban gains that North Carolina Democrats made in 2018, most of their winning margins were within four percentage points. Some were within two points.
We know North Carolina Republicans can do well among these voters, because that’s what had happened in recent election cycles until 2018. So, how can the GOP bring them back into the fold in 2020?
…North Carolina Republicans thought it was enough to remind voters of recent tax cuts. But that was a backward-looking message. What did GOP candidates say about their future plans?
Here’s what they should have said: we’re going to get you a better value for your dollar. For example, we’re going to make it easier for you to shop around for the best deal in health care. That means more “minute clinics” staffed by nurse practitioners, more online consultation, and more choices in health plans.
Stuck in traffic? We’re going to squeeze more waste out of the transportation budget so we can spend more of your tax money fixing and adding lanes to the jam-packed roads in fast-growing communities.
And then there is the issue North Carolina’s partisan gerrymander. The legalities have been debated but not resolved. Post-election there were many complaints on social media that N.C’s representation in Congress in no way matched the popular vote. I like the idea of a urban-rural redistrict—just give Democrats the state’s urban areas and let the suburbs be the wild card.