“Stronger than a blue wave” by @BloggersRUs

"Stronger than a blue wave"

by Tom Sullivan

The expression is so well known "With Surgical Precision" could replace "First in Flight" on North Carolina's license plates. The line refers to the federal court ruling against the state's voter ID law passed by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2013. The heavily gerrymandered congressional districts the legislature drew in 2011 have been in court ever since. Adjusted once by court order and ruled again unconstitutional, pending appeal they were still in use on November 6.

The blue wave that swept across the country in November and gained Democrats 40 seats in the House of Representatives broke against the red levee Republicans erected in North Carolina, the New York Times explains. The status quo held there and in Ohio as well. Although the statewide vote split almost evenly, Republicans won 10 of the 13 congressional seats. Certification of the close 9th District contest is held in abeyance pending an investigation into possible absentee ballot fraud.

Voting November 6 under court-ordered nonpartisan maps, Pennsylvania shifted its congressional balance from 13 Republicans and five Democrats to nine Republicans and nine Democrats, the New York Times explains.

Republicans in North Carolina publicly admit their maps are a partisan gerrymander. They simply deny that makes them illegal.

“We’re in charge ... That’s the way it works,” said Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party.

While 87 of the state's 100 counties lie within a single congressional district, that surgical precision came in how Republicans chose to divide the other 13. Woodhouse tells the Times it was impossible to keep those intact and still maintain equal-population districts:

The results can be seen clearly in Guilford County, home of Greensboro, North Carolina’s third-largest city and a Democratic stronghold. The legislature split the city between the Sixth and 13th Districts, which had the effect of dissolving its voters into the red seas of North Carolinians outside the city limits and leaving the city represented entirely by Republicans in Congress.

Of the 57 counties where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, only 17 have a Democratic representative in Congress. But every county where Republicans outnumber Democrats has a Republican representative.

The results are also clear on the boundary between NC-10 currently represented by Rep. Patrick McHenry and NC-11 held by Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows, both Republicans. The amoeba-like appendage added to NC-10 in 2011 reaches out to split the heavily Democratic city of Asheville (mine), making NC-11 a safe Republican seat while making NC-10 only marginally less Republican. Democrat Heath Shuler held the NC-11 seat for three terms, but declined to run again after redistricting rendered the district unwinnable.

Both McHenry and Meadows comfortably held their seats this year.