Now that we have warmed up to the new congressional district boundaries, Senator Rucho and Representative Lewis have gone and changed the maps. The new district boundaries released on Wednesday are strikingly different for several of the U.S. House Districts, not the least of which is our own 2nd Congressional District. My earlier post on this subject described how most of Lee County would have been aligned under Republican Howard Coble’s 6th District. That has all changed. Lee County has been kept together and has become the heart of Renee Ellmers’ 2nd District. Go figure; the county that unexpectedly put Renee over the top in November 2010, will now be the geographic center of her new district.
In stead of receiving Lee County and retaining Moore and Randolph Counties in his highly conservative district, Mr. Coble has inherited an almost completely new set of counties well north of his current district (aside from his Guilford-Alamance base). One can’t help but wonder whether Mr. Coble will even bother to run, given his age and need to familiarize himself with a largely new constituency including eight additional northern counties.
Congresswoman Ellmers has her work cut out for her as well. Rarely in 2010 did she venture west of Harnett County to campaign. Her base was primarily in eastern Harnett County and heavily conservative Johnston County. Well, she has completely lost Johnston to the MacIntyre’s 7th District and the “center of gravity” for her district is now Lee County. She has picked up a large swath of conservative voters in Moore and Randolph Counties and only 13.25% of her district remains in her native Harnett County. Fully 50% of her constituents will now reside west of Wake, Harnett, and Cumberland Counties– surprising indeed. One can only wonder how much more we’ll be seeing of Mrs. Ellmers once these maps are locked down!
Here are some interesting statistics to go along with the newly configured 2nd Congressional District.
Nine counties comprise this district that sits dead center of the state: Alamance, Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore, Randolph, and Wake. Only Lee and Moore Counties fall entirely in the new district; the other seven lie partially outside the 2nd district. The largest city populations comprising the new district are Cary (79,794), Fayetteville (70, 179), Sanford (28,094), and Asheboro (24,851).
Our new 2nd Congressional District has virtually eliminated the gap of registered voters between Democrats and Republicans. The shift west of the district now reflects a near-perfect balance of 37.85% Democrat, 36.11% Republican, .196% Libertarian, and 25.85% Unaffiliated. In the 2008 elections, these same constituents voted McCain over Obama by a margin of 55.7% – 43.34%. In the 2008 Governor’s race, they voted 51.59% for McCrory to 45.19% for Perdue. In the 2010 election these same voters preferred Burr (60.7%) over Marshall (36.91%). Clearly, there has been a significant move to the right for our beloved district. Finally, the racial breakdown reflects a slight shift to fewer voting minorities in the 2nd district– with 76.48% of all registered voters claiming caucasian; 16.99% claiming black/African-American; and 6.53% either not disclosing or claiming another race.
Assuming no more changes to these maps, it’s clear Lee County will become the heart of the 2nd District and no doubt will witness a substantial increase in attention from Mrs. Ellmers. One important observation: Mrs. Ellmers’ chances of being challenged in the GOP primary in 2012 just went up appreciably. There are a number of energetic, conservative politicians with excellent credentials residing in the Moore and Wake county parcels of her district, and two from Moore gave a short but spirited challenge to Howard Coble in the 2010 GOP primary. Renee will need to sharpen her campaigning skills and visibility in the western counties throughout early 2012 if she hopes to win over these newly added conservative constituents in next year’s election.
Also of interest– it appears as if ex-Congressman Etheridge’s address is again gerrymandered into Democrat David Price’s 4th District. Looks as if Mr. Etheridge will either have to move or compete against a fellow Dem if he wishes to regain a seat in the 113th Congress. (Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.)