Publisher's note: This post, by Andy Jackson, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.
The News & Observer's Ned Barnett recently wrote an editorial in which he stated that North Carolina may soon be in for a sudden lurch to the left like the one Virginia is currently experiencing. The basic premise is real enough; that a more left-leaning Democratic Party, frustrated by years of being out of power, could unleash a torrent of progressive legislation
after taking control of the General Assembly:
- But that frustration could trigger a Virginia-like rush of liberal reforms if Democrats win back the state House and Senate this November or in 2022.
We at Civitas have covered what the left would do if they came into power in North Carolina (here is one example
). The real question is whether Democrats will take control of the General Assembly in 2020 or 2022. Barnett believes that demographic trends make that likely:
- North Carolina went for Trump in 2016, but the home counties of most of its larger cities - Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and Asheville - went for Hillary Clinton. Those blue urban counties - supported by universities, banking and high-tech companies - are growing as the Republicans' rural base is eroding. The shift that tipped Virginia to the left is now rumbling under North Carolina.
There are a couple of problems with Barnett's analysis. The first problem is that the Republican's rural base is not eroding, it is expanding. As I noted just two weeks ago, Republican voter registration has increased
in eighty-seven, mostly rural, counties while Democratic registration has declined in 90 counties. It is not the Republican's rural base that has eroded, it is the Democrat's base. (Virginia does not have registration by party, making an apples-to-apples comparison difficult.)