News

Analysis: Youth voter registration up since Parkland school shooting

Youth voter registration has surged since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, according to a new analysis by data firm TargetSmart – including a 5.5 percent bump in North Carolina.

The company’s analysis of 39 states found the share of youth registrations in the N.C. increased from 38.7 to 44.2 percent since the February shooting.

In a release promoting the analysis, TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier attributed the increase to the well publicized movement to organize youth for the November election.

“A new generation of political leaders emerged in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy,” Bonier said in the release Thursday. “We witnessed their ability to organize in North Carolina and across the country as massive crowds took to the streets for the March for Our Lives, and now we’re seeing a quantifiable impact from that organizing. It remains to be seen how many of these younger registrants will cast a ballot in November, but they are poised to have a louder voice than ever in these critical midterm elections.”

The release also highlighted the findings of a poll from the Harvard University Institute of Politics, conducted after the Parkland shooting. It found  64 percent of 18-29 year-olds favor stricter gun control laws whether or not they plan to vote in November. Nearly two-thirds of those under 30 who say they plan to vote said they support stricter laws.

News

Western Carolina University chancellor decision up in the air

Last week, the UNC Board of Governors scheduled a special session to vote on the new chancellor at Western Carolina University. The announcement of a new chancellor was expected, the culmination of a search process that began in February.

But today new board chairman Harry Smith released a statement saying the candidate being considered for the position has withdrawn from consideration. The search process itself is now, according to Smith, being reviewed and revised.

Smith’s statement:

“Today, I announce that the candidate for the position of Western Carolina University (WCU) Chancellor has withdrawn from consideration. President Spellings informed me that Alison Morrison-Shetlar has agreed to her request to continue to serve as interim Chancellor. On behalf of the UNC Board of Governors and President Spellings, I thank Alison for her leadership and service. WCU’s future is strong and bright.

The Board plans to complete an expedited review of the Chancellor search process in an effort to refine and improve it—and we expect to have the process in place in September.

The Board is committed to working with the President and the Boards of Trustees to identify the most capable and talented candidates to lead our remarkable institutions—and modifications to the Chancellor search process will do just that. Together, we are working to move our institutions—and the System—forward. Thank you.”

Patricia B. Kaemmerling and J. Bryant Kinney, co-chairs of the Western Carolina search committee, released their own statemet:

“Certainly, this is not the outcome we had hoped for, but Western Carolina University remains strong and well-positioned to continue to make great progress.We look forward to working with the WCU Board of Trustees, the UNC Board of Governors, President Margaret Spellings and the WCU campus community to ensure a successful search for our next chancellor. We are grateful to Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, who has agreed to continue serving in the interim role, and to Dr. Carol Burton, who has agreed to remain as acting provost.

We are also immensely grateful to members of the search committee for their hard work and diligence on this search.”

Several faculty and staff members, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by the board, said Monday that they are worried the announcement may mean the process may be politicized.

For several years faculty, staff and administration across the UNC system have expressed concern about the board taking a new, more aggressively conservative direction.

News

By 2040 just eight states – NC included – will hold 50 percent of U.S. population

An interesting piece in the Washington Post points to new population projections that show that by 2040, about half of the population of the United States will live in just eight states.

North Carolina is among them.

According to an analysis by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, Census Bureau data suggests 49.5 percent will live in either North Carolina, California, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania or Texas.

What does that mean demographically and politically?

As the piece puts it:

“Thirty percent of the population of the country will control 68 percent of the seats in the U.S. Senate. Or, more starkly, half the population of the country will control 84 percent of those seats.

It’s self-evident that the 34 smaller states will be more rural than the 16 largest; a key part of the reason those states will be so much more populous is the centralization of Americans in cities. It’s true, too, that this movement to cities has reinforced partisan divisions in a process called the Big Sort.

The Weldon Cooper data, though, is less stark on the age differential. Eleven of the 16 most-populous states will have over-65 populations that are below the median density nationally. Twenty-two of the 34 less-populous states will have over-65 populations that are over the median density.

In the current political context, older voters means more Republican voters. By 2040, though, those 65-year-olds will be Generation X, a generation that currently skews more Democratic than the two generations that preceded it, according to a March study from the Pew Research Center. By 2046, even some millennials — a group that is much more Democratic-leaning — will be at retirement age (!!!).”

Read the whole piece here and the population projection data on which it is based here.

News

North Carolina elected officials add names to effort to abolish ICE

More than 150 elected officials from across the country – mostly at the state and local levels – have so far signed on to an open letter calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Twenty five of them are from North Carolina.

The letter lays out the criticisms of the agency and the argument that it harms the communities represented by the officials who have signed on.

In the last two weeks, we have seen countless stories about babies and children being ripped from the arms of their mothers and fathers so that their parents can be funneled, without due process of law, through criminal prosecutions off of which private prison companies stand to make millions of dollars.

While this escalation of policy is particularly devastating and inhumane, it is part of a larger crisis that has been building in our communities for years. The rampant and brutal enforcement tactics of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) a lawless federal agency that, since its creation in 2002, has terrorized immigrants and separated families in the communities we live in and represent. As one of our newest federal agencies, ICE spends more time destroying communities than it does keeping communities safe while violating basic civil and human rights. The experiment that is ICE has failed, and must be ended as soon as possible.

As leaders and elected officials, we are committed to ensuring that our communities have the opportunity to thrive – that means everything from keeping our infrastructure up-to-date and creating good jobs to ensure that our kids get a quality education. Above all else, we are responsible for the safety of people in our communities. Our government should encourage civic and community participation and increase the quality of lives of our residents. The presence of ICE in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, places of worship, and homes, makes this impossible.

 

The letter supports the abolition proposal of Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin).

This week a Politico/Morning Consult poll found a majority of Americans polled don’t support abolishing ICE – though there is growing support for it among Democrats.

Only 1 in 4 voters in the poll, 25 percent, believe the federal government should get rid of ICE. The majority, 54 percent, think the government should keep ICE. Twenty-one percent of voters are undecided.

But a plurality of Democratic voters do support abolishing ICE, the poll shows. Among Democrats, 43 percent say the government should get rid of ICE, while only 34 percent say it should keep ICE. Majorities of Republicans (79 percent) and independents (54 percent) want the government to keep ICE.

The open letter continues to gather support and is part of a movement that will include public events supporting ICE’s abolition.

News

New UNC Board of Governors Chairman speaks

This month the UNC Board of Governors officially got a new chairman.

Harry Smith, part of an aggressive conservative faction of members, took the reins of the board on July 1. Late last month he gave a victory lap interview to the conservative James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (formerly the Pope Pope Center for Higher Education Policy).

In the wide ranging interview Smith touched on the protests over the “Silent Sam” Confederate statue, the controversial UNC speech policy and future plans for the board and the 17 UNC system schools.

There weren’t many probing or challenging questions from the Martin Center, which has pushed and taken credit for conservative shifts in public higher education in the state. But it’s still well worth a read.

Some highlights…

On the UNC free speech policy:

I haven’t really been involved in that at all. I’ll tell you how I view all of that: the law is the law. We don’t make it law at the board of governors. You can inject all the emotions you want into it, but the law is the law. We’re going to follow the law, and that’s no different with Silent Sam: there’s a law in place. So, we don’t get to make that decision at the board of governors, despite any emotions that want to go along with it. That’s the same with free speech, there’s a law in place—we’re going to follow the law. We’re not a legislative body; we’re a policy body. When the legislature votes and passes a law, we’re going to follow it, pretty simple. We’re not going to go trying to change laws at the board of governors, that’s not our job. The folks in Raleigh and the local officials across the state, when they make decisions at the state or federal level, we’re going to respect that process entirely.”

On the “Silent Sam” conflict, which recently extended to a billboard campaign:

I always tell everybody, don’t let the vocal minority outweigh the silent majority—and that happens a lot. It’s been no different when we have protests here [at meetings of the Board of Governors]: we have 230,000 students and we have six protestors from time to time. At the end of the day, people have their rights to have their views and opinions and that’s what makes America great—but there’s a law in place there, too. It’s a very clear law: I don’t even know how you can interpret it any differently than it’s written. So, at the end of the day, there’s a law in place that’s passed by the legislature that we’re going to respect. If you want to move Silent Sam, you don’t need to be coming to the UNC administration or the board of governors; you need to go down and talk to the legislature—because there’s a law in place. We’re going to follow the law when it comes to the board of governors. And by the way, we’ve got plenty to do without getting into the writing the law business.”

As you might imagine, the interview didn’t go over so well with those who sympathize with the movement to remove “Silent Sam.”

After the interview was published, the Martin Center took the step of adding a clarification to the story.

It read:

“Editor’s note: In the following sentence: ‘It’s been no different when we have protests here: we have 230,000 students and we have six protesters from time to time,’ Governor Smith was referring to occasional protests that have taken place at the Center for School Leadership Development, where the Board of Governors meetings take place; he was not referring to Silent Sam protesters on UNC-Chapel Hill campus. We added context to clarify this point.”