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Gerrymandering in North Carolina

Transcription:

Gerrymandering in North Carolina

  • 1,747,742 votes for Democrats = 3 Congressional seats
  • 1,638,684 votes for Republicans = 10 Congressional seats

Example sources: [1], [2]

Are these numbers correct?

  • 4
    Asking whether the numbers are correct is a legitimate question, but I'm tempted to ask another question about whether the seats in NC have been gerrymandered. It might be a duplicate of skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/40256/… though. – Andrew Grimm Nov 14 at 21:29
  • 5
    You call this "gerrymandered"? Son, you wouldn't know gerrymandering if if jumped up and kicked you in the behind. You want gerrymandered? Look at the Ohio congressional districts, in particular the Ohio 9th and 11th (my district). These are "designer districts", intended to capture many of the Democratic voters in two districts which between them span nearly the width of the state, and keep the surrounding districts "safe" for Republicans. – Bob Jarvis Nov 15 at 0:32
  • Do you know the total popular vote for Ohio in the House elections? – DJClayworth Nov 15 at 1:16
  • 1
    Maryland is at least as bad as Ohio. Look at almost any Maryland congressional district. Most are not even contiguous. – James K Polk Nov 15 at 5:20
  • 2
    I predict the democrats have a majority in densely populated urban areas and the republicans have a majority in thinly populated rural areas. So a map may show tiny blue areas and large red areas. To counteract this, the voting districts would have to extend very far outside city limits, which may appear unfair also. – Chloe Nov 15 at 22:38
up vote 160 down vote accepted

Yes, the numbers are correct (within an error margin – probably due to different sources and time of capture).

According to the 2018 House election results (I used this handy Washington Post page), adding up numbers for NC, will give you the total of 1,748,173 votes for Democrats and 1,643,790 for Republicans – very close to the claim.

Ten of the seats went to Republicans and three to Democrats (Districts 1, 4, and 12), with most Republican wins being quite narrow and Democrats wins overwhelming.

+-------+-----------+-------+-----------+-------+--------+
| dist. |     D     |  D %  |     R     |  R %  | Winner |
+=======+===========+=======+===========+=======+========+
|   1   |   188,074 | 69.8% |    81,486 | 30.2% |   D    |
|   2   |   148,959 | 47.1% |   167,382 | 52.9% |        |
|   4   |   242,002 | 75.0% |    80,546 | 25.0% |   D    |
|   5   |   118,558 | 42.8% |   158,444 | 57.2% |        |
|   6   |   122,323 | 43.4% |   159,651 | 56.6% |        |
|   7   |   119,606 | 43.4% |   155,705 | 56.6% |        |
|   8   |   112,971 | 44.6% |   140,347 | 55.4% |        |
|   9   |   136,478 | 49.7% |   138,338 | 50.3% |        |
|  10   |   112,386 | 40.7% |   164,060 | 59.3% |        |
|  11   |   115,824 | 39.5% |   177,230 | 60.5% |        |
|  12   |   202,228 | 73.0% |    74,639 | 27.0% |   D    |
|  13   |   128,764 | 46.9% |   145,962 | 53.1% |        |
+=======+===========+=======+===========+=======+========+
| Total | 1,748,173 | 51.5% | 1,643,790 | 48.5% |        |
+-------+-----------+-------+-----------+-------+--------+

Note: One caveat is that the Republican representative for District 3 ran uncontested. That is, it would be more appropriate to say that the result is 9 vs 3, as the total numbers don't include the voters in 3rd district.

  • 32
    According to ncsbe.gov/ncsbe, the unopposed Republican candidate in District 3 (Walter Jones) received 186,353 votes. So perhaps one ought to say that the total was 1748173 votes for Democrats and 1830143 for Republicans. Excluding the unopposed seat and calling the total 9 vs 3 seems a little bit like cherry picking. – Nate Eldredge Nov 12 at 5:30
  • 65
    @NateEldredge I don't see it as cherry picking - "unopposed" means we can't really compare numbers properly, as we have no reference to what would a Dem candidate get there. In ideal world, in a randomly split 50/50 territory, we'd expect to get an equal number of representatives for each party. We just select a smaller territory, excl. district 3. Nothing wrong with that. You are welcome to introduce an edit with a possible alternative take on this, it doesn't change the answer in essence really, I don't mind... – sashkello Nov 12 at 5:38
  • 60
    It's more than just size. The Democrat-held districts all had massive majorities, with almost all the votes going Democrat. The Republican held districts had comfortable but much smaller majorities. That's exactly the sort of textbook distribution you try for in a Gerrymandering scheme. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering – DJClayworth Nov 12 at 14:23
  • 81
    @fredsbend: There's nothing to prove. They openly admit to gerrymandering, and even made it part of their public election strategy. It's not illegal, despite nearly everyone on both sides agreeing it should be, because the people who vote on the laws are the ones who directly benefit from it. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Nov 12 at 16:08
  • 39
    @hobbs I think you came to almost the exact opposite view as me based on the FiveThirtyEight data. Their simulator shows that this is literally as inequitable of a split as it is possible to make--the current districts represent a more-or-less perfect Republican gerrymander. There is no way to split the districts in a way that gives the Republicans more seats, and literally every way they tested that wasn't an explicit Republican gerrymander gives them fewer seats. – Toast Nov 13 at 2:50

This is a community wiki supplement to the other answer, which makes the columns easier to read and shows vote difference for each district. 3rd party or other votes are not included.

District       D          R           Margin       Total Votes   Majority %
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1        188,074     81,486   (D) 106,588         269,560    (D) 69.8%
   2        148,959    167,382        18,423 (R)     316,341        52.9% (R)
   3              *          *             * (R)     186,353*       100%* (R)
   4        242,002     80,546   (D) 161,456         322,548    (D) 75%
   5        118,558    158,444        39,886 (R)     277,002        57.2% (R)
   6        122,323    159,651        37,328 (R)     281,974        56.6% (R)
   7        119,606    155,705        36,099 (R)     275,311        56.6% (R)
   8        112,971    140,347        27,376 (R)     253,318        55.4% (R)
   9        136,478    138,338         1,860 (R)     274,816        50.3% (R)
  10        112,386    164,060        51,674 (R)     276,446        59.3% (R)
  11        115,824    177,230        61,406 (R)     293,054        60.5% (R)
  12        202,228     74,639   (D) 127,589         276,867    (D) 73%
  13        128,764    145,962        17,198 (R)     274,726        53.1% (R)
------------------------------------------------
Total     1,748,173  1,643,790   (D) 104,383

* = uncontested, no votes are listed, same as Washington Post source.

Democrat candidates received 104,383 more votes than their Republican opponents. However, Republicans received 81,970 more votes overall (1,830,143 total), when including districts they were unopposed in. (Since the there was no challenger for district 3 it is impossible to calculate a meaningful Democrat-to-Republican margin for the total count. More or fewer people may have voted, some of the cast ballots may have gone to a different party, etc.)

Data from Washington Post.

Raleigh is in district 4.
Charlotte is in district 12.

North Carolina congressional districts

  • 38
    Wow. That "margin" column paints more of a picture than the actual colored map. – PoloHoleSet Nov 12 at 18:45
  • 3
    Districts 4 and 12 suspiciously look like packing, while district one looks suspiciously like cracking. – fredsbend Nov 12 at 23:07
  • 5
    @fredsbend-Or if you had a clue about the makeup of NC you would say that the districts are divided into very similar regions of concerns. District 12 is the city of Charlotte. Splitting the city of charlotte into any of its surrounding regions would mean that the people in the rural surrounding areas would get zero representation for their particular needs. Region 4 combined Raleigh/Cary/Chapel Hill and then throw in region 1 and you have the research triangle. 5 & 11 covers the mountains... – Dunk Nov 13 at 18:54
  • 8
    I'd also add that if one were to split Charlotte which is surrounded by conservative regions then it is quite possible that nobody will end up getting elected to represent Charlotte (proper). And that is the problem that can't be solved without gerrymandering. How do you guarantee minority representation without it? – Dunk Nov 13 at 19:04
  • 13
    @Dunk So it's reasonable that the 1.6 million republicans got 10 people to represent them but the 1.7 million democrats got 3? – Tim B Nov 14 at 22:50

According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement, the results of the 2018 election are as follows. (Parties are ordered by number of votes):

District 1
    Democratic Candidate: 190,445
    Republican Candidate: 82,209

District 2
    Republican Candidate: 170,050
    Democratic Candidate: 151,966
    Libertarian Candidate: 9,654

District 3
    Republican Candidate: 187,901

District 4
    Democratic Candidate: 247,067
    Republican Candidate: 82,052
    Libertarian Candidate: 12,284

District 5
    Republican Candidate: 159,915
    Democratic Candidate: 120,462

District 6
    Republican Candidate: 160,636
    Democratic Candidate: 123,601

District 7
    Republican Candidate: 156,797
    Democratic Candidate: 120,804
    Constitution Candidate: 4,665

District 8
    Republican Candidate: 141,371
    Democratic Candidate: 114,057

District 9
    Republican Candidate: 139,246
    Democratic Candidate: 138,341
    Libertarian Candidate: 5,130

District 10
    Republican Candidate: 164,969
    Democratic Candidate: 113,259

District 11
    Republican Candidate: 178,012
    Democratic Candidate: 116,508
    Libertarian Candidate: 6,146

District 12
    Democratic Candidate: 203,974
    Republican Candidate: 75,164

District 13
    Republican Candidate: 147,570
    Democratic Candidate: 130,402
    Libertarian Candidate: 5,513
    Green Candidate: 2,831

Total

    Republicans: 1,845,892
    Democrats: 1,770,886
    Libertarians: 38,727
    Constitution: 4,665
    Green: 2,831

(Note: results are not yet official)

This graphic from the question leaves off the results from district 3. District 3 cast 186,353 votes for the Republican candidate and none for a Democrat (the Republican was unopposed). That flips the total to 1,830,219 Republican votes to 1,748,018 Democratic votes (a margin of 82,201). That's 50.5% to 48.2%. Presumably the other 1.3% went to third party candidates.

Source: Wikipedia.
Original citation for district 3. As that is the official source, someone could get the rest of the districts from there as well. Javascript required to change districts and view results.

Remember that the original claim was that Republicans won ten of thirteen races with fewer votes. That's demonstrably untrue, as the graphic only includes the votes from twelve of the districts. If it were leaving off the uncontested races, it should only have been nine of twelve contested races.

If the claim is instead adjusted so that it only compares the seat proportion to the vote proportion, there are several other states where it's the Democrats who won a higher seat share than their vote share. E.g. three out of four in Iowa with only 50.38% of the vote; five of five in Connecticut with at most 64.4% of the vote; nine of nine in Massachusetts; or California, where Republicans won more than a third of the vote but no more than half as many seats (two still undecided).

It also may be worth noting that in North Carolina in 2016 and 2014, the Republicans won by about 300,000 rather than less than 100,000. In 2010, Republicans had over 236,000 votes more than the Democrats but only won six of thirteen seats.

  • 31
    Answers should stand alone, so the explanation that the Republican in District 3 ran unopposed is crucial and absent here. Whether or not, and how, the votes in District 3 should be counted for this comparison is debatable, but let’s give readers all of the information required to understand what is happening and make their own judgments. – KRyan Nov 13 at 4:50
  • 6
    This non-answer is misleading at best. It's literally impossible for democrat votes to be counted in a district that didn't have a democrat running. So you're just assigning 100% of the votes to republicans. I assume that there are many democrats that voted, but didn't give a vote in that race. Are you going to count non-votes for democrats ? Otherwise you're just falsifying statistics. You're counting 100% of republican votes in that district but discard 100% of democrat votes. – xyious Nov 15 at 21:49
  • 2
    @xyious But that's what the graphic claims: that Democrats beat Republicans in thirteen districts (not the twelve competitive districts). And nationally, there are more races with only Democrats, including races in California with only Democrats. Even in races that have both Democrats and Republicans, many aren't actually competitive. People often don't bother to vote if they know it won't affect This makes the national popular vote misleading at best in evaluating who would have won a proportional election. – Brythan Nov 15 at 23:51
  • 3
    The point of the graphic, since you missed it, is that 51% of the votes are Democratic,but they only got 23% of the seats. In other words, a state that is technically marginally Democratic is 70+% Republican because of where the borders are drawn. This is a direct consequence of how voting regions are laid out. Give one party a few seats in exchange for a lot of seats. This is what people who point out gerrymandering usually refer to. Not that Republicans won districts with fewer votes, simply that the state's total vote doesn't reflect what the seats represent. – phyrfox Nov 16 at 8:50
  • 1
    District 3 isn't a race, if there is only one contestant. Hard to say someone won against someone else, when there wasn't a someone else. – Edwin Buck Nov 17 at 18:09

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