Gerrymandering Caused Most North Carolina Races To Be Uncompetitive

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Brent Laurenz at the NC Center for Voter Education notes that of the 120 NC House races this year, half were uncontested and only 16 were decided by less than 10 percentage points. The situation was nearly identical in the NC Senate where only 6 of the 50 seats were decided by less than 10 percentage points. The average margin of victory was 25 points in the NC House and 22 points in the NC Senate. It's clear that we need non-partisan redistricting reform in North Carolina. From Brent Laurenz's column,

Election 2014 is officially in the history books and as campaigns, candidates and political observers pour over the results to determine what happened and why, a few interesting trends jump out when it comes to this year’s races for the N.C. General Assembly.

In the state House, Democrats picked up a net gain of three seats, bringing the total tally in that chamber to 74 Republicans versus 46 Democrats. While Democrats were able to defeat a handful of incumbent Republicans in close contests, it’s clear that highly competitive races were few and far between.

For starters, half of the 120 N.C. House seats literally had no competition. As in, there was only one candidate on the ballot. Right up front that takes away any real choice for half the voters of the state, robbing them of having any real say in who represents them in the legislature.

Of the 60 House races that did field two candidates, 37 of them were decided by more than 15 percentage points on Election Day. That hardly makes for a spirited debate of ideas and visions between two candidates.

In the end, only 16 of the 120 House races were decided by less than 10 points. That’s just 13 percent of all seats.

The N.C. Senate races didn’t look much different. In that chamber, 20 seats were on the ballot with no opposition and another 20 were won by 15 points or more. Ultimately, 80 percent of Senate races saw either minimal competition or no competition at all.

Just six of the 50 Senate races could be considered competitive, with the eventual winner claiming victory by less than 10 percent of the vote.

If you look at the average margin of victory for N.C. House candidates with opponents this year, it was a staggering 25 percent. The state Senate races were only slightly more competitive, with an average margin of victory of 22 percent.

So what does this all mean? Aside from the obvious fact that too many voters were left without any real choice of who represents them in Raleigh, it underscores the idea that the way we draw our legislative districts in North Carolina is broken.

Districts are crafted by members of the General Assembly, the very people who will eventually stand before the voters in those districts. As a result, partisan politics is put above the interests of the average voter, leaving us with a system where politicians choose their voters, instead of voters choosing their politicians.

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