A tally of ballots cast in congressional races across North Carolina in 2012 shows Democrats edging out Republicans overall, 51-49 percent. Yet the GOP picked up three congressional seats to go from a 7-6 deficit to a 9-4 advantage in the state’s U.S. House delegation, while Democrats failed to add a single seat to their total.
The favorable results for the GOP come under new congressional districts drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011.
This year, Republicans held on to each of their six seats, including that of retiring Rep. Sue Myrick in the 9th District, and defeated incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell in the 8th District. The GOP also picked up a seat in the 11th District, where Democrat Heath Shuler declined to seek re-election, and in the 13th District, where incumbent Democrat Brad Miller decided against another run for office in a district significantly different under the new Republican-crafted maps.
Indeed, the 13th District saw a net swing of 25 percentage points in the margin of victory between 2010 and 2012 in the GOP’s favor. This year, Republican George Holding won by 14 percent a seat that Miller had carried by 11 percent two years previous.
Republicans narrowly missed out on picking up a fourth seat in the 7th District when Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre defeated Republican David Rouzer by 654 votes, or 0.2 percent. McIntyre won re-election in 2010 by a more comfortable 8-point margin.
The gains for Republicans come after the 2010 election resulted in their party winning a majority in both chambers of the state legislature for the first time in more than a century, and just in time to control that body during the decennial redistricting process.
Also in 2010, Republicans led Democrats in congressional votes across the state, 54-46 percent, but picked up just one seat when challenger Renee Ellmers edged out Democratic incumbent Rep. Bob Etheridge by less than 1 percent in the 2nd District. Even in what was a strong Republican election year in 2010, Democrats maintained a 7-6 seat, or 54-46 percent, advantage in North Carolina’s congressional delegation.
The disparity between statewide congressional vote totals and the results in individual races may be due to several factors specific to those contests, including the caliber of campaigns, voter turnout efforts and regional partisan leanings. But the gap may also point to the effective use of redistricting by each party, when in control of the legislature, to draw congressional districts more favorable to their slate of candidates.
The following table shows the results of the 2012 congressional races, along with the net difference between the margin of victory this year as compared to 2010. For instance, Republican Rep. Walter Jones of the 3rd District won re-election in 2012 by 26 percent, down from his 46 percent margin of victory in 2010, resulting in a net gain of 20 percent for Democrats even though Jones held his seat.
|District||2012 Winner||2012 Margin of Victory||Net Change from 2010|
|District 1||Democrat||52%||+34% Dem|
|District 2||Republican||15%||+14% Rep|
|District 3||Republican||26%||+20% Dem|
|District 4||Democrat||48%||+34% Dem|
|District 5||Republican||16%||+16% Dem|
|District 6||Republican||22%||+28% Dem|
|District 7||Democrat||0.2%||+8% Rep|
|District 8||Republican*||8%||+17% Rep|
|District 9||Republican||6%||+32% Dem|
|District 10||Republican||14%||+28% Dem|
|District 11||Republican*||14%||+22% Rep|
|District 12||Democrat||60%||+30% Dem|
|District 13||Republican*||14%||+25% Rep|
*Change in party control from 2010