New District Maps Unveiled
Special Report - July 12, 2011
For the first time in nearly 150 years, Republican legislators in North Carolina have one of the most valuable privileges of their historic 2010 electoral winsthe right to redraw the state’s congressional and legislative districts in light of population changes over the last decade. On July 1, legislators unveiled the new congressional maps after holding several public hearings across the state over the last few months. The General Assembly returns to Raleigh on July 13 for a special session to consider the maps. North Carolina’s history of redistricting has been contentious with the most recent redistricting attempt after the 2000 census resulting in a lawsuit before the United States Supreme Court. So far, legislative leaders heading up the redistricting process have only unveiled maps for North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts. New maps for the state’s 170 legislative districts are expected sometime this week.
Currently, North Carolina’s congressional delegation consists of seven Democrat representatives and six Republican representatives. Each of the state’s 13 districts includes roughly 733,000 residents. Population shifts toward the state’s more urban areas, specifically the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte areas, required that North Carolina’s district lines be adjusted to maintain near equal representation. The proposed districts do not represent any major technical changes, but the effect of the shifting of several district lines is to create more districts that are friendly to Republican candidates than currently exist. Under the newly drawn districts that are being proposed, as many as four of the seats currently held by Democrats could be picked up by Republicans in the next election. The districts that would experience the most dramatic changes in party favorability are the 11th, 8th, 7th, and 13th, currently represented by Reps. Heath Shuler, Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre, and Brad Miller, respectively.
Documents related to redistricting for both North Carolina’s congressional districts and General Assembly districts, including the proposed maps, are available on the General Assembly website. Citizens can offer input on the maps here. Another public hearing on the maps is scheduled for July 18. Legislators must approve the maps by a majority vote in both the House and Senate. The Governor does not have the opportunity to sign or veto the maps.
The North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation has also prepared an extensive analysis on the make-up of the proposed districts, comparing the new district demographics to the results of the 2008 presidential election.
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