How districting changes could play out in WNC

Photo courtesy of Western Carolina University

Chris Cooper, Western Carolina University professor and Political Science and Public Affairs Department head, considers the top five ways redistricting could play out in the region.

  1. A crowded Democratic field in the 11th Congressional district: When the 11th was among the most Republican districts in the state, most of the traditionally competitive challengers stayed away. Given the realities of the new lines, however, a more prominent Democrat with progressive ambition may view the 11th as a better bet.
  2. Higher voter turnout: Voters tend to vote in greater numbers in competitive elections. The new district lines should make our elections more competitive, resulting in higher voter turnout in 2020 and beyond.
  3. Goodbye to Patrick McHenry and hello to Virginia Foxx: Patrick McHenry has represented the 10th congressional district since 2005, a district that once abutted Asheville and, after the last round of redistricting, included Asheville. The new maps move McHenry’s district out of our region; the 5th District, home to Republican Virginia Foxx, will now be the neighbor to Asheville’s east.
  4. Half a dozen congressional candidates will lose sleep while brushing up on beer styles: Hazy IPA or West Coast IPA? It’s the kind of question Patrick McHenry has become accustomed to answering as the representative from Beer City USA and a founding member of the Small Brewers Caucus. Now that the member of Congress from the 11th Congressional District will be responsible for the entirety of the city, it will be in his/her best interest to wax poetic about beer styles, mouthfeel and hop profiles.
  5. Voters become more aware of the prospects of political reform: New district lines will give voters more awareness of a variety of reforms that could improve our electoral process.
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