The other midterm election uncertainty: Will NC Republicans Hold Super-Majorities?

RALEIGH – Although so much of the elections attention is on the congressional races, there is a similar struggle for the N.C. General Assembly that could change the power dynamics on Jones Street considerably.

Much like congress, Republicans hold majorities in both the upper and lower chambers of the state legislature, but unlike congress those majorities are strong enough to earn the ‘super’ prefix. That means that Roy Cooper’s narrow victory over incumbent Republican Pat McCrory in 2016 was mostly Pyrrhic ; Republicans could still pass whatever they wanted into law because the super-majorities turned his veto pen into an act of futility.

That could all change in 2019 if Democrats pick up a handful of seats tomorrow. So what are the ‘tea leaves’ and how do we read them on Election Eve? Luckily Dr. Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College is sharing his insights on that very question.

After 2016, I thought it best to stick to “explaining” why elections and their results happened, rather than “predicting” beforehand what could happen on Election evening. But as I’m teaching a course on Congress this semester, and we just wrapped up the section on mid-term elections, I thought it might be fun to post some thoughts on elections and what political scientists call the “fundamentals” when it comes to campaigns & elections, especially at the state level for 2018.

As many North Carolinians will be focused on the state’s 13 congressional districts, it will be important to watch the state’s General Assembly contests for both the state house and state senate in the Old North State. All eyes are on the question: can Democrats reduce the Republicans’ seats in the state senate (GOP controls 35 seats) and the state house (GOP controls 75 seats) to below ‘supermajority’ status (3/5’s of the 50 senate seats and 120 of the house seats) and thus break the power of the legislature to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto? If so, that would pose an interesting divided government scenario for the state for the next two years.

Thus, the key numbers for Democrats to pick up is 6 in the state senate (to reduce Republican seats down to 29) and 4 in the state house (to reduce Republican seats down to 71).

Many observers will be looking at a lot of different dynamics Tuesday night for these districts. Two good analysts are Jonathan Kappler at the NC Free Enterprise Foundation and his analysis of both the house and senate districts, and Thomas Mills (a Democrat) over at Politics NC blog (house & senate), but I tend to focus on the ‘fundamentals’ of a district, such as [… ]


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