Republican or Democrat? Fewer than 40% of NC voters will have a choice in both state house & senate in November

Fifty-eight of North Carolina’s state house seats and 18 of North Carolina’s state senate seats will lack representation from both major political parties in this November’s elections.

Among North Carolina’s 5.2 million active voters, this means that 2.4 million or 47% will have no choice between major political parties in their state house elections. In the state senate election, 1.8 million or 35% will not be able to choose between Republican and Democrat. Looking at both chambers of the General Assembly, 1.1 million or 21% of North Carolina voters will not have a choice between the major political parties in both their state house and senate elections. Only 39% of North Carolina’s active voters (2.1 million) will be able to choose between parties for both chambers.

How does this vary across partisan affiliation? The table below details the number of Democratic and Republican registered active voters with no candidate from their party of choice in the election for NC house, NC senate, or both chambers.

NC Voters with no candidates from party of choice in 2016_CD

More than 350,000 Democrats live in state house districts where no Democrat is on the ballot in 2016; this represents 17% of the 2.1 million active, registered Democrat voters in North Carolina. Slightly more, nearly 388,000 or 18%, live in a state senate district with no Democrat on the ballot. In total, more than 163,000, or 8% of the state’s registered Democrats, lack a Democratic candidate in both their state house and state senate districts.

These proportions are slightly lower among Republican voters. Just over 183,000 Republicans—11% of the state’s 1.7 million active, registered Republican voters—live in a state house district without a Republican on the ballot. Nearly 100,000 or 6% live in a state senate district without a Republican candidate. In total, slightly more than 51,000, or 3%, of North Carolina’s registered Republicans cannot vote for a Republican in either their state house or state senate districts.

Of course, the mere presence of a competitor does not make a district competitive. Since 1998, fewer than 10% of both the state senate and state house seats in North Carolina have been competitive—meaning that they were won by 5% or less—in spite of the presence of major-party challengers. These proportions are consistent with nationally observed declines in electoral competitiveness for state legislative elections.

 

About Rebecca Tippett

Rebecca Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center.
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