North Carolina lawmakers are in the process of redistributing the states and the federal government based on the 2020 census results. The state’s population growth has made it eligible for a 14th House seat. the United States.
Republican North Carolina Senator Warren Daniel, who co-chairs the state Senate redistribution committee, drew one of the first proposed Congress maps this week.
Other maps will be drawn. Others will be considered and tweaked over the next two weeks.
But Daniel’s first draft offers some clues for the future.
Daniel’s card would likely give the Republicans the edge in 10 of the 14 seats.
Before the first map was drawn, political insiders believed the new 14th seat would be designed for GOP House chairman Tim Moore from Cleveland County. And this 14th seat is indeed west of Charlotte, centered around the counties of Gaston-Cleveland-Rutherford.
The Daniel Card gives Republicans an overwhelming advantage by grouping Democratic voters in the 12th Arrondissement, which primarily includes the city of Charlotte. He then divides, or splits, the rest of the county into two districts – the newly created 9th and 14th. If Mecklenburg were only in two districts, the Democrats would have a chance to win those two seats. Wake County, home to Raleigh, is also divided into three districts.
Perhaps most interestingly, it gives Democrats hope to topple U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn in the mountains.
Cawthorn, the youngest member of Congress, currently represents the 11th District. While home to Liberal Asheville, he is on the whole very conservative.
In the 2020 election, Cawthorn defeated Democrat Moe Davis by 54,742 votes, or 54.5% to 42.3%.
Daniel’s map removes Polk, McDowell, and Rutherford counties and adds Watauga, home to Boone and the Appalachian State. (Only half of Rutherford was in the 11th).
In 2020, Cawthorn won McDowell, Polk and Rutherford by 19,185 votes. Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in Watauga by 2,671 votes. This suggests that Daniel’s card would have reduced Cawthorn’s advantage by 12 percentage points to around seven points.
But even with a better card, the Democrats’ best hope of bringing down Cawthorn could come in March, during the Republican primary.
Four Republicans have said they will challenge Cawthorn.
This week, one of those candidates, Eric Batchelor, a Haywood County Sheriff’s Deputy, said he would drop out. He encouraged others to do the same so that anti-Cawthorn Republicans could rally around a candidate. Retired U.S. Army Col. Rod Honeycutt appears to be gaining support as the Republican with the best chance of defeating Cawthorn.
“With myself and three others challenging Cawthorn in the primary, the vote is split so he will likely emerge as the winner,” Batchelor said. “I have met two of the three remaining candidates and they also understand the consequences of our high numbers. I believe that one or more of them will do the right thing and also suspend their race, thus creating a much more favorable odds to beat Cawthorn in the primary.