In 2020, North Carolina seemed the model of an evenly-divided swing state. Then-President Donald Trump barely won, beating Democrat Joe Biden by just over a percentage point. Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, won reelection by a relatively comfortable 5 points.
Even last year, as Republicans won two seats on the state Supreme Court, North Carolina’s congressional delegation split evenly between Democrats and the GOP.
But it’s the Republican Party that is making the decisions in the state, thanks to recent seat gains in the legislature and aggressive stances from GOP lawmakers. It has passed voting changes over Democrats’ objections and this week could vote to wrest power from the Governor over how the state’s elections are run.
In both cases, Republicans are expected to override the Governor’s veto thanks to their legislative supermajorities.
Those major changes will come on the heels of similar power plays by the Republican legislative majority in Wisconsin, another battleground state where the GOP has lost a series of statewide races.
Republican lawmakers there are trying to fire the state’s nonpartisan elections director and are considering impeaching a newly elected justice on the state Supreme Court. Her victory earlier this year gave the court a liberal majority that could strike down the Republican gerrymander that has given the party its outsized statehouse clout. Wisconsin voters have elected Democrats to all but one of the statewide executive offices that are decided on a partisan basis.
While both parties engage in gerrymandering, the dynamics in North Carolina and Wisconsin go beyond mere redistricting fights and offer a vivid illustration of how Republicans are attempting to maintain power regardless of their level of support among voters. The moves could give the GOP disproportionate influence over everything from partisan redistricting to the certification of next year’s presidential election.