2022 Autopsy: North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

Culture is king.

In North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, Republicans had a relatively good night. They won big in West Virginia while the results were more mixed in North Carolina and Virginia due to redistricting and the national trend of Independent voters breaking toward Democrats.

North Carolina

The Red Wave in North Carolina crashed into redistricting.

North Carolina was like a reverse Florida because of the North Carolina Supreme Court. This was a very interesting election though because rural North Carolina is going the way of rural Virginia.

Elections Daily:

“But lurking behind this quiet political environment was a mild Republican wave – the utter collapse of Democrats in the state’s rural east and a second straight clean sweep in the judiciary. This silent revolution could have ramifications for years to come, as Republicans prepare for a new legislative session that will see both a slew of new laws heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, along with new congressional maps that will erase the lone Democratic bright spot of the midterms. …

This congressional map will not be in use in 2024. Because it is an interim congressional map, it will be redrawn, and Governors cannot veto maps in North Carolina. With the Supreme Court now in Republican hands, the legislature will have free reign to draw the map of their choice, and it is widely expected that Republicans will aim for a map that splits 11-3. This can easily be done by creating vote sinks in Charlotte, Raleigh, and the Research Triangle areas; the remaining seats could average anywhere from Trump+11 to Trump+20. …

Democrats fared better in the state House, but only slightly. Republicans gained two districts to achieve a decisive 71-49 majority, only a single seat short of a supermajority. Like in the Senate, Republicans overperformed in the state’s rural east, flipping competitive seats like HD05 (Biden+0.2), HD09 (Biden+3.7), HD24 (Biden+0.9), and HD25 (Biden+1.9). Perhaps the most shocking upset of the night came from HD32, a Biden+10, 43% black seat north of Raleigh; this wasn’t even on my radar to flip, frankly. Republicans now hold a stunning 4-2 advantage in the “black belt” region, yet another sign that the region is undergoing a political revolution. …”

Just like all other the Southern states, the Republican-controlled North Carolina state legislature redrew its maps for Congress and the General Assembly after the 2020 Census, but the Democrat-controlled North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the map for being too partisan. The result of this was a temporary court-drawn House map which was much more favorable for Democrats in the 2022 midterms. A new map will have to be drawn for the 2024 elections. The U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the Moore v. Harper case which arose out of the controversy and which could have major implications.

In the House, Republicans won 7 out of 7 House seats. Democrat Wiley Nickel defeated Bo Hines to flip Ted Budd’s old House seat. Democrats barely won in two other House seats in NC-01 and NC-06. The swings from the 2020 election were R+2.8 in NC-01, D+0.2 in NC-02, R+8.7 in NC-03, R+1.6 in NC-04, R+5.6 in NC-05, R+3.8 in NC-06, R+2.9 in NC-07, R+6.2 in NC-08, R+5.4 in NC-09, R+6.2 in NC-10, D+0.6 in NC-11, R+4.9 in NC-12, D+1 in NC-13 and R+1.4 in NC-14. Were it not for the favorable House map that was drawn by the North Carolina Supreme Court, Democrats would have likely lost three House seats.

At the state level, Republicans FLIPPED two seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court, which all but guarantees that the new Republican-controlled North Carolina Supreme Court with its 5-2 majority will allow the Republican-controlled state legislature to gerrymander the new map for Congress and the General Assembly. Republicans won a supermajority in the North Carolina Senate and came up one vote short of a supermajority in the North Carolina House.

Ted Budd was elected to the Senate with 50.7% of the vote. If that sounds like an underwhelming 3 point victory, it is because 51% of Independents voted for Cheri Beasley to 45% who voted for Ted Budd. Independent women made it a closer race than it should have been.

Virginia

In Virginia, Republicans won 5 out of 11 House seats. They flipped VA-02 in Virginia Beach, but fell short of knocking off Abigal Spanberger in VA-07 and Jennifer Wexton in VA-10 whose districts include the NOVA suburbs. Before the election, these three seats in Virginia were used by the media as a sort of national barometer of Republican performance. Biden won all three by 2%, 6.7% and 18% respectively in the 2020 election. These seats were all also redrawn during redistricting to give Democrats an edge. As in North Carolina, the Virginia Supreme Court drew a more favorable map for Democrats.

In the House, the swing from the 2020 election was R+7.8 in VA-01, R+6.1 in VA-02, R+3.4 in VA-03, R+8.1 in VA-04, R+7.7 in VA-05, R+7.3 in VA-06, R+2.8 in VA-07, R+7.3 in VA-08, R+5.1 in VA-09, R+12.1 in VA-10, R+8.2 in VA-11. Republicans performed better across the board in Virginia without Trump on the ballot, but not as well as Glenn Youngkin in 2021. As in North Carolina, Independents breaking toward Democrats spoiled the night for Republicans who were more competitive in NOVA. The Democratic Party continued to collapse in rural Virginia. The big state elections in Virginia were in 2021.

West Virginia

West Virginia is a small state which had a low turnout election. Republicans easily won both House seats. The swing from the 2020 election was D+3 in WV-01 and D+5.8 in WV-02. Turnout was 33.8%. Donald Trump wasn’t on the ballot and some of his voters obviously didn’t show up.

Republicans increased their super majorities in the West Virginia House and Senate. Democrats in West Virginia were punished for supporting abortion and now only have four or five seats in the West Virginia Senate. A strong abortion ban was passed there as recently as September.

The results in North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia are revealing.

West Virginia is one of the most lily White states in the country. It is Appalachian in culture. It is heavily White working class. White evangelical Protestants are 32% of the population. A strong abortion ban was passed there and Democrats were crushed. In contrast, Maggie Hassan was reelected in New Hampshire by 9 points because so many White people from Massachusetts have moved into the Granite State.

In North Carolina and Virginia, the population is more racially mixed, but there are still large numbers of White evangelical Protestants who vote like people across the border in West Virginia. There are parts of those states like Wake County or Asheville or NOVA which have been infested by transplants who have changed the local culture. Abortion clearly activated them more than it did elsewhere. And yet, even in NOVA in Spanberger’s district or Wexton’s redrawn districts it was fairly close.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this analysis, Dear Mr. Griffin.

    Excellent, as always.

    North Carolina is 2 years behind the bullet-proof super majority Red States – but we are getting there.

    As to Virginia, I could not conclude from what you wrote if our people are winning there.

    If they are, I would be shocked!

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