I have not been successful at finding one elsewhere, so I have created a map depicting which party has control of the County Commission in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
The color scheme should be obvious. The one purple county (Jackson) has divided partisan control and is chaired by an unaffiliated member.
-53 counties have Republican control, 46 counties have Democratic control, 1 county is divided.
-The map diverges greatly from the 2012 presidential map. Local Democrats have retained popularity in areas that now vote strongly Republican, particularly those in the Mountains and eastern North Carolina.
-The map also shows that Republicans control some of the most populous counties, including Wake, Guilford, Forsyth, and New Hanover. They also came close to securing Buncombe last year, due to college students who some say should have been registered at home instead of on campus.
-At this point in time, Republicans control more County Commissions than ever before. Great news for Team Red, right? The answer: not really. Republicans are winning more County Commission seats because they are getting stronger in rural counties and less so in urban ones, but the urban counties are growing and the rural ones are not. It’s good news that they’re in charge of places like Wake, Guilford, etc. But this doesn’t herald a growing red trend in North Carolina. In the same vein, just because Republicans are in control of a majority of state legislatures across the county does not mean that their party is healthy.
-The bad news for Republicans? In the most populous county in the state (Mecklenburg), Democrats have full control. Nor is this likely to change anytime soon. Simply put, there’s no way to gerrymander a Republican majority in Mecklenburg County.
-Notably, Republican control in Wake County is not based on any redistricting that favors their party. Rather, voters elect the Commission from at-large seats in staggered terms. In 2010, Republicans gained the majority thanks to a good year for their party. It’s possible that the same thing will happen in 2014. But Wake is trending Democratic. Could it be that the General Assembly will think it prudent to change the way Commissioners are elected in Wake? Stay tuned.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.