of NC Citizens Vote Republican for State House
But Richard Morgan Redistricting Plan Gives 63-57 Majority to Democrats
The majority of North Carolina’s citizens voted Republican in 2004. President Bush won a great victory with 56% of the vote, Richard Burr won the U.S. Senate race with 52% of the vote, and Republicans continued to make historic gains in the Council of State races.
Republican candidates for the Legislature also won a majority of the statewide vote. Republican candidates for the state House received 51% of the vote to the Democrats 47%, and state Senate Republicans won 50.3% to the Democrats 47.9%. But despite Republicans getting a majority of the vote, Democrats won 63 House seats to 57 for Republicans, and 29 Senate seats to 21 for the Republicans.
People are already playing the blame game as to why Republicans did not win a majority of seats in the Legislature. But the numbers speak for themselves, and those numbers were created by redistricting
Whether a candidate wins of course depends on many factors, including the candidate’s strengths, the effectiveness of the campaign, fundraising, local as well as state issues, and how well the entire party ticket is doing. However, whether a candidate has a chance at all, depends on the demographics of their district -- how the district is drawn. And when Republican candidates get the majority of the vote, but the Democrats win the majority of the seats, it is obvious that redistricting is the primary reason.
Morgan Redistricting Plan Packed Republicans, Gave Democrats Majority of Seats
Republicans never would have even had a chance for a House majority under the Democrats’ original “Sutton 3” and “Sutton 5” redistricting plans. However, thanks to the successful Stephenson lawsuit (which Morgan opposed), Republicans did win both a majority of the vote, and a 61-seat majority under the 2002 judicial Interim Plans.
Despite the Republican majority, Richard Morgan joined the Democrats, and pushed through the Democrats’ Senate and House redistricting plans. Morgan and the Democrats were forced to at least partially comply with the Stephenson decision, and Morgan claimed that the 2004 Redistricting Plan was better for the Republicans than the 2002 Interim Plan.
Morgan’s 2004 Redistricting Plan did create more strong, or packed, Republican House districts. But “packing” Republicans was a classic gerrymander technique that favored Democrats, because creating more packed Republican districts, means fewer overall districts that Republicans can win. By any criteria, the “Remedial 14 Plan” that fully complied with the NC Constitution and was drawn by Republican National Committee experts (a plan which Morgan would not allow to be heard during the 2003 Redistricting Special Session), was better for Republicans than the adopted Democrat-Morgan Plan. The below is just one comparison that shows how the Democrat-Morgan Plan packed Republicans and helped the Democrats win an overall majority of seats with minority of the statewide vote in 2004:
Analysis of Potential Republican Seats From December, 2003
Democrat-Morgan Remedial 14
House Plan House Plan Percent of Voters Registered Republicans
56 61 Republican Registration of 35% or more
12 7 Republican Registration of 49% or more
I regret that this analysis was right. It was off by only one seat, in predicting that even in a good year with a majority of the vote, Republicans would win 56 seats under Morgan’s plan. The numbers speak for themselves - Richard Morgan’s Redistricting Plan and “leadership” took Republicans from winning a 61-seat majority in 2002, to being in the minority by six seats after 2004 elections. The Senate Democrats Plan, passed with Morgan’s support, also gave the Democrats the majority of the seats, despite Republican Senate candidates winning a majority of the state wide vote in 2004.
Morgan’s Goal To Defeat Republicans
I have heard that Richard Morgan is actually blaming the Republican Party and grassroots for the loss of the Republican House majority! But who wanted Republican incumbents to lose through redistricting, the primaries and General Election? A November 30, 2001 interview with Richard Morgan in The Pilot stated: “Morgan frankly admits there are some Republicans he would like to see defeated in GOP primaries next year . . . . He [Morgan] sees some hope for personnel changes as a result of the redistricting of the House . . . . What Morgan would like to see is a ‘cleansing’ of the current Republican leaders and their allies from the House.”
Morgan did not get his wish in the 2002 elections, when the Republicans won a majority of seats despite him. By betraying that Republican majority and joining the Democrats, Morgan, with the full support of Jim Black and the Democrats, did get part of his wish in 2004, though more of his own loyalists lost during the primaries, than did his opponents in the General Election.
The big losers, of course, are the majority of North Carolina citizens who voted Republican for state House and Senate in 2002 and 2004, and ended up with the Democrats still in control, thanks to Richard Morgan.
Think how different it would have been if, for 2003-2004, the Republican majority of 61 had stayed united behind their Caucus nominee for Speaker. Think how different it can be in the future, if Republicans unite as Republicans, rather than allow themselves to be split by the Democrats and Richard Morgan.
People can play the blame game if they want to . . . . but the numbers speak for themselves, and Morgan’s own words and actions speak for him.
By Art Pope, Revised November 11, 2004,