The meetings were a joke – to everyone but the faithful North Carolinians who attended them and had the gumption to speak out. And they did, letting North Carolina Republican legislators know what they thought of the “new” district maps to be used for legislative races in 2018. The answer: not much. And no wonder.
These maps were drawn in response to federal court rulings that said the current maps, drawn by Tom Hofeller, a veteran Republican map-drawing consultant, were racially gerrymandered and had to be redone. Naturally, Republican leaders got Hofeller to do them again. And he did what they saw as his duty – protecting the Republican majority with districts that mostly lean Republican. The vast, vast majority of districts will be not politically competitive, a factor easily judged by asking whether the districts would have been competitive between presidential candidates in the last election. In other words, could either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton have won a district in a close election? If the answer is, no, the district clearly leaned toward one party, then the goal of partisan redistricting has been achieved.
And that’s bad. The antipathy many members of the public felt toward these new maps isn’t surprising, but Republicans care only about keeping their advantage in the next election. If that means maps that are weird geographic shapes and dilute the strength of minority voters, so be it.
As chaotic as it might be, the best alternative now is for the courts to draw new maps. Otherwise, fairness loses in a landslide.
An @NOOpinionShop Twitter poll is asking your opinion on the new N.C. district maps. The poll will run through Friday, Aug. 25.