When the first North Carolina redistricting map came out at the beginning of July, Democrats of course bawled like stuck calves. Speaking objectively, this wasn’t a surprise: the way that it was set up, it put four Democratic Congressmen – Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre, Brad Miller, & Heath Shuler – at a serious disadvantage in the 2012 elections. Put simply, the map threatened to flip NC from 6/7 GOP/DEM to 8/5 GOP/DEM, or even 10/3. If you examine the previous map, you’ll understand why such a dramatic shift; the Democrats went notoriously overboard in gerrymandering in 2000, when they controlled the process. In short, we had a humdinger of a karmic adjustment going on in North Carolina.
But then something interesting happened: Rep. GK Butterfield (D, NC-01) started complaining. Rep. Butterfield is a beneficiary (along with Rep. Mel Watts of NC-12) of the racial gerrymandering system set up in response to the Voting Rights Act; and he made some rather pointed objections to the first map, arguing that it ‘disenfranchised’ some of his former constituents by moving them into majority-white districts. North Carolinan Republicans thought about it – and must have decided that they agreed, because they went into the maps again and redrew both Butterfield’s and Watt’s districts to make them more in line with the VRA’s perceived guidelines.
Of course, that meant that they had to… make some unavoidable choices: (more…)