In a surprising turn of events, North Carolina’s Supreme Court ruling on the congressional maps has disrupted the expectations for Republican dominance. The recent vote to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the U.S. House has raised questions about the possible outcome had the state’s map been more favorable to Republicans. With North Carolina’s split of 7-7 representatives, including partisan sides, the vote could have been different if the GOP had secured more districts.
— The Center Square (@thecentersquare) October 4, 2023
The director of the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Center for Public Policy, Andy Jackson, suggests that if Republicans had gained 10 districts on the old map, the outcome might have been in McCarthy’s favor. Furthermore, Jackson believes that the three new Republicans from the redrawn districts, including Rep. Dan Bishop, who is known for his conservative values, could have provided a safeguard for other members voting to support McCarthy.
Although a professor of politics at Catawba College, Michael Bitzer, sees a potential influence on McCarthy’s removal due to the new districts, he poses the question of what kind of Republicans would have emerged from those districts. Would they have been more moderate like Reps. Patrick McHenry and Richard Hudson, or more conservative and disruptive like Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida? Bitzer suggests that having three more Republicans in the conference could have diluted the eight Republican defectors against McCarthy.
The connection between North Carolina’s historic occasion and Rep. McHenry temporarily assuming the speaker’s role is evident. The state’s Supreme Court deemed the original maps drawn by the General Assembly unconstitutional, leading to the appointment of special masters. Their revised maps indicated a 7-6 Republican majority. However, political scientist Jowei Chen’s simulations predicted a 9-5 or even a 10-4 GOP split, highlighting the unexpected nature of the final 7-7 outcome.
The timing of the midterm elections in 2022, which resulted in a 7-7 representation in Washington, coincided with changes in the North Carolina Supreme Court panel. The court now consists of five Republicans and two Democrats, and they subsequently ordered the creation of new maps. The uncertainty lies in the speculation surrounding the candidates who would have run in the initial districts approved by the General Assembly.
In light of all these developments, it is clear that the state of North Carolina plays a significant role in the national political landscape, and the decisions made by its Supreme Court and the outcomes of its congressional maps have far-reaching consequences. It remains to be seen how these changes will impact future elections and the balance of power in both the state and federal governments.