Under the Dome

Dome: Breaking down GOP gains made on Election Day

December 26, 2012 

Looking back at voter turnout this November, Republicans gained ground in North Carolina for a somewhat obvious reason: Registered members of the GOP showed up in droves while Democratic support waned.

In a new analysis, Democracy North Carolina points out that Democrats had 53,000 fewer voters than in 2008 while the overall turnout was up by nearly 200,000.

Said Bob Hall, the group’s president: “North Carolina has a history of low voter participation that goes back to the Jim Crow era, when the poll tax, literacy test and other tactics told people that politics is for the privileged, the boss man, not for you.

“We’ve made considerable progress and are finally climbing out of the bottom tier of states, but we still have a long way to go to reach the participation levels of many Northern states.”

A few noteworthy numbers from the analysis:

• The percentage of turnout by registered voters dipped to 68.3 percent, down from 69.6 percent in 2008, which was a record-setting number.

• Black registered voters turned out at a rate of 70.2 percent, exceeding the rates of 68.6 percent for whites and 54.3 percent for Latinos.

• It’s the second presidential election in a row that black voters in North Carolina have outperformed white voters.

• The 2010 election was a rare case when men outperformed women, but in 2012 significantly more women showed up. The gap between the number of female and male voters exceeded 490,000 out of 4.5 million voters casting ballots.

Is anyone listening?

Over the past five years, the state entity whose job it is to identify poor performance in state government has identified nearly $80 million in one-time savings and $60 million in recurring savings.

But state legislators have only implemented about $17 million in recurring savings and just $2.5 million in one-time savings during that time.

The General Assembly created the Program Evaluation Division in 2007 to weed out wasteful programs. Its most recent report to the Joint Program Evaluation Oversight Committee presented those numbers.

The division has looked at such issues as the N.C. Railroad, state aircraft, state attractions, vehicle inspections and vehicle emissions. It will be presenting a comprehensive five-year report to lawmakers next month.

3 prison officials leaving

There are some high-level departures among state prison officials.

Jennie Lancaster, chief deputy secretary of the Division of Adult Correction, will retire effective Jan. 1. Deputy Director of Adult Correction James French retired Nov. 1.

Bob Lewis, section chief for prisons, will retire Jan. 1.

No word on whether the retirements intentionally coincide with the change in administrations. But that kind of thing tends to happen when a new governor from a different party takes office.

Coble gets chair, closes office

U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, R-Guilford County, has been named chairman of the House subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. The panel deals with copyright, patent and trademark issues along with the Internet and the federal court system.

The committee is a revamped version of the Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law that Coble chaired during the current session. The 112th Congress ends on Jan. 3.

Coble, 81, is a former federal prosecutor and said in a statement that he was pleased the federal court system would remain part of the subcommittee’s portfolio.

Coble, who represents the 6th District, recently closed his district office in the Rowan County town of Granite Quarry and turned his Randolph County office over to a fellow Republican, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn. Redistricting moved him out of those counties.

Representation of Rowan County is now divided among Republican U.S. Reps. Virginia Foxx and Richard Hudson and U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a Democrat.

Coble is keeping his offices in Greensboro, High Point and Graham and is expected to announce future office openings soon.

Staff writers Austin Baird, Craig Jarvis and Mary Cornatzer

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