The New 9th District Redesigned For Republicans

Michael Bitzer

It seems like it’s gonna be one of those years—incumbents come, incumbents go.  But current officeholders seem to be more “going” this year than usual, and out come the challengers.

Following the past two weeks of incumbents saying “thanks but no thanks,” we have word that nine-term Congresswoman Sue Myrick is bowing out after nearly 30 years of public service.  From her early start on Charlotte City Council in 1983 to her current service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Myrick certainly can’t be faulted for wanting a rest.

But with her retirement, the new 9th district now opens up the political ambition ladder to a crop of future retiring incumbents.  Under the congressional maps drawn by the Republican General Assembly, the 9th Congressional District changes in terms of geography, but not so much in terms of political affiliation.

The political composition of the 9th before the 2010 election was a strong Republican district, with registered Republicans making up 39 percent of the voters, with Democrats at 34 percent and Unaffiliated voters at 27 percent.  In the new district lines, very little changes: Republicans make up 40 percent of the registered electorate, while Democrats dropped slightly to 31 percent and Unaffiliated voters rise to 29 percent. 

Beyond just the voter registration aspect, the district is almost identical in its voting behavior as well: in the old version, the district went 54-44 percent for McCain over Obama, while in the new lines, the district would have gone 54-45 for the GOP presidential candidate.

What does change is the district’s geography, most notably dropping all of Gaston County; now, the new 9th picks up nearly two-thirds of Iredell and ending in Union.  But even with this new vertical slant to the district lines, it remains Meck-centric in population totals.  The Great State of Mecklenburg constitutes 70 percent of all the registered voters in the new district lines, while Iredell makes up 15 and Union makes up the remaining 14 percent. 

The key, though, in terms of the geographic lines of the new district, is the fact that it envelopes the strong Republican areas of Mecklenburg, skirting the strong Democratic areas (mostly notably within the Charlotte city limits). 

My analysis of partisan voting behavior of the past two presidential elections in Mecklenburg precincts shows a very clear demonstration of how the county has distinct political subdivisions: strongly Republican red at the top and bottom of the county (with a slight indentation into Charlotte’s Myers Park & SouthPark areas), while the middle of the county (Uptown, east and west Charlotte, for the most part) is dark Democratic blue.

Taking that map and comparing it to the new district lines show an almost identical line-up for a strong Republican district. 

For potential Republican wannabes to the U.S. House, this is their ideal seat to seek. The candidate with an “R” next to their name will be the most likely winner in November.

The one thing that Charlotte will not get with this new district is the seniority that Myrick has.  Having sat on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Myrick was able to use her longevity in working with the banking, finance, and even energy sectors.  Any future holder of this seat will have to work their way up from the bottom of the political ladder in the 113th Congress. 

The number of incumbents bowing out is rather unusual, but they may be seeking something in the political winds this early that says “get out now.”  Or maybe it is something in the water? Either way, if you’re currently an elected official, you might want to head to the store for the bottled version.

 

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