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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

10-year terms for Congress

As the 2012 elections approach, incumbents and candidates are setting their strategies in the context of newly drawn districts. For the first time in any living North Carolinian's memory, the districts have been drawn by Republicans not Democrats. Do the new districts favor Republicans? Of course they do, in the same way that previous districts favored Democrats.

I am irritated when I hear fellow Democrats whining about the redistricting process. Where were they when Democratic candidates in North Carolina had their butts kicked at the polls in November 2010? Everyone knew what was at stake, but some Democrats had misinterpreted the 2008 election as ushering in a new political order that rendered Republicans impotent for years to come. Not so!

Now the consequences of the 2010 disaster are upon us. Essentially, North Carolina legislators have chosen their voters -- an inverse election, if you will -- for a 10-year term. Even if President Obama and Governor Perdue at the top of the ballot are reelected this year, it's likely that Democrats will lose further ground in the U.S. House of Representatives and the North Carolina General Assembly simply because of the new districts.

Fortunately for Democrats, the population of North Carolina is likely to continue growing. Over time the influx of new voters will erode the districts drawn last year, and the 2020 election -- which will determine who draws the districts for the next 10-year term -- will be a fair contest. Until then, however, Democrats will have to tolerate the bitter aftertaste of 2010.