The Bluing of Mecklenburg
Some demographic lessons from a low-turnout primary
My apologies. I’ve been tied up on a long and involved piece that’ll be in the politics-rich November issue, plus some other matters. I’ve been shirkin’ on my pokin’. Time to remedy that.
It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from a primary election with less than 7 percent turnout, but one thing you can put pay to: The important political battles in Charlotte’s future will be fought within the Democratic Party.
I’m not sure this is a good thing, but it’s the way the demographics are going. You caught a glimpse of the shape of things to come from the Patrick Cannon-James Mitchell mayoral primary, in which Mitchell tried to cast himself as the arm-in-arm lieutenant of Anthony Foxx and watched the tactic fail badly.
But the real significance is that the mayor’s race came down to one African-American Democrat versus another. (It’s mathematically possible for Edwin Peacock to win in November, but he’d have to roll about four sevens in a row, as the Observer’s Taylor Batten writes.) The numbers just don’t work for the Republicans; it’s odd to think of Pat McCrory as Charlotte’s last Republican mayor, given his 14-year headlock on the office, but more than likely, that’s what he is.
Some really interesting number-crunching came from Catawba College’s Dr. Michael Bitzer, who used a “partisan voting index” analysis to outline Democratic dominance of not only Charlotte but, increasingly, the suburbs as well:
In developing the PVIs using 2008 and 2012 results, a “creeping outwards” of Democratic voting patterns emerged from within Charlotte into the city’s GOP strongholds and into the neighboring suburban areas of the county.
Between the two PVI calculations, 46 precincts moved more Democratic in nature, while only one precinct moved more Republican in its behavior.
And the Democratic “creep” seems to be breaking into the southern Charlotte and Mecklenburg areas of GOP dominance.
A few years ago, it seemed like the Great State of Mecklenburg stereotype was abating. Now it’s coming back in a new, potentially long-lasting form.