North Carolina Democrats made a lot of progress last night in winning back seats long held by Republicans, but there was one clear factor that prevented a sizable “blue wave” from truly transforming state politics: partisan gerrymandering. We’ve known for years that Republican majorities in the General Assembly and the state’s congressional delegation have far exceeded the size of their actual support in a closely divided “purple” state, but last night’s results really brought that fact home again.
This was most obvious in the state’s 13 congressional districts where the total vote was almost dead even, despite the presence of nine extremely well-funded Republican incumbents and one race — the third district — in which Democrats didn’t even field a candidate. In the 12 contested races, the vote total thus far shows Republicans winning 1,642,344 votes or about 48.5% while Democrats won 1,747,742 or around 51.5%. Yet, despite this impressive performance, Democrats only won three of the 12 seats.
I’ve yet to add up all of the numbers, but a preliminary glance at legislative races reveals what appears to be a similar pattern: Republicans will still enjoy sizable majorities almost exclusively because of partisan gerrymandering.
The bottom line: Gerrymandering continue to remain a toxic and dangerous plague upon our democracy. Its elimination (and the adoption of a nonpartisan redistricting system) must remain at the top of the policy priority list for all caring and thinking people.