RALEIGH (By David N. Bass, Carolina Journal Online) — It seems self-defeating: A Republican-crafted redistricting plan hurting Republicans’ election chances. But in two North Carolina districts, it’s true.
A Catch-22 of redistricting is that partisan map-drawers must weaken their party’s power in certain districts to strengthen their power in others. In North Carolina, GOP lawmakers followed a redistricting strategy that diluted Democratic strength in key congressional districts at the expense of other GOP-held seats, particularly the 3rd and 6th congressional districts.
Republicans have dominated the two districts for over 15 years, but political experts say that could change in an election season favorable to Democrats.
“In a good year for Democrats, where they have the wind in their sails because of some national momentum advantage, a strong Democrat could very easily defeat a mediocre or weak Republican in those two districts,” said John Davis, a Republican political consultant in Raleigh.
Michael Bitzer, associate professor of politics and history at Catawba College in Salisbury, said that a Southern conservative-leaning Democrat — in the mold of U.S. Reps. Heath Shuler or Mike McIntyre — could give Republicans a run for their money in either district.
“It would also take money from outside the district, most likely from the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], to pump enough money into that district to make it competitive and to make it an opportunity for the Democrats to pick up,” Bitzer said.