Tuesday, November 19, 2013

North Carolina, Immigration & Redistricting

Rob Christensen at the Raleigh News & Observer has an interesting article on the GOP, immigration reform and North Carolina. It shows the shifts in support for reform by different groups.

Just one quibble. I've now seen this sort of thing argued more than once:

Because of redistricting, most Republican House members represent districts that have few Hispanic voters. But they do have to worry about their right flank in GOP primaries.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/11/16/3374636/christensen-the-gop-and-immigration.html#storylink=cpy

I think this is misleading and perhaps inaccurate. The South has traditionally seen a binary racial divide, with African Americans voting overwhelmingly in favor of the Democratic Party. Redistricting, then, has often involved drawing lines around population concentrations of African Americans. For example, check out Rep. Mel Watt's district:

But as I've argued elsewhere, Latinos in North Carolina have not necessarily concentrated in those same areas. In fact, they're dispersed geographically. In many cases they are living in the same districts as whites but are not eligible to vote. In my opinion, redistricting right now is irrelevant when you're talking about less than 2% of the total electorate (which is the case with Latinos in North Carolina right now).

However, redistricting is extremely important in the long term because areas considered safely Republican now won't be as a result of Latinos gaining the right to vote, either by becoming 18 or naturalizing. In that regard, check out my own district:

I live in a tiny tip of this district and it sprawls all over, but avoiding the city center, where there are African Americans, and seeking out whiter suburbs. Therefore it is solidly conservative. Now, let's compare my district to Latino births in 2009 from the research I've done with my dad (and see this recent blog post):

Births mean citizens, which mean future voters. District 9 goes outside Mecklenburg County so the fit is not perfect, but there are more and more Latinos being born in the district because they live in the suburbs. Here is a key point--district 9 avoids the city center, but there are few Latinos there anyway. Redistricting has never been aimed at them.

So we come to my own hypothesis, which is that redistricting works in the short term and backfires in the long term for Republicans.


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