Some Republicans winced when presidential front-runner Donald Trump announced his intention to deport approximately 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally. For many, the wince was about simple impracticality. For others, however, resistance was in part about politics: Did the Republican Party, which has a hard time getting more than a relative handful of minority votes, really want to alienate even more people?
It’s a question more Republicans around the country are asking with good reason. Demographic studies reported by The Charlotte Observer show a couple of interesting trends in the electorate. One, urban areas are growing faster that rural ones. Two, minority populations are growing more rapidly than whites.
This could cause some measure of havoc in the congressional and legislative districts that Republicans drew in North Carolina and elsewhere after the 2010 census. Those districts, many bordering on blatant gerrymandering to the point courts are reviewing them, were designed to favor Republican candidates. In some cases, it appears African-American voters were crammed into Democratic-leaning districts to give an advantage to more Republicans in more districts overall.
Now there are increasing numbers of Hispanic voters in all sorts of districts, rural and urban.
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That kind of development can render the districts designed to keep Republicans in power unpredictable. This is especially true for a party with little minority support. They may be in for some surprises come Election Day.
Some observers of the changing face of North Carolina’s population are suggesting it’s time to push again for an independent redistricting commission. The permanent group, appointed and bipartisan, would draw districts every 10 years as the population shifts and changes. In states that use such a commission, neither party is entirely pleased or entirely displeased. But both tend to acknowledge that the resulting districts, more compact and balanced, are better for all concerned.
Going to independent redistricting, says Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, might create an “insurance policy” for both parties, creating predictable, solid districts instead of those that might change because of the changing demographics of the state’s population.
Appealing to the parties’ selfish instincts may be smart. After all, appealing to common sense and fairness hasn’t worked so far.