Political hopefuls eager to win support by reciting arbitrary rankings of how North Carolina compares to other states can start writing a couple new talking points: The Tar Heel State is No. 2 in the country – but in what?
It turns out the redistricting plan adopted by N.C. makes the state home to the most egregiously gerrymandered Congressional district in the Union, as well as a few others deserving of an honorable mention.
Azavea, a firm that applies mapping software GIS in online media, updated a previous report that uses four geographical measures of compactness for every Congressional district in the country, and by the group's estimate, N.C.'s 12th District is literally the worst in the country. Here's why:
At 120 miles long but only 20 miles wide at its widest part, the district has the lowest z-score of any district in our analysis.
It includes chunks of Charlotte and Greensboro connected by a thin strip - on average only a few miles wide - meandering along Interstate 85 between the two cities (traveling on 85 between Charlotte and Greensboro would take you in and out of the district 4 times). An appendage extends northwest from just south of Greensboro, offering Winston-Salem part of the district.
The 12th district was created after the 1990 census and meant to be a majority-minority district. However, in the Supreme Court case Shaw v. Reno, the district was found unconstitutional as a racial gerrymander. After the state redrew the district slightly, it was justified as political gerrymandering and thus legal.
Using 2010 census data, this district is still a majority-minority district, with 51 percent of the population African-American.
Despite the 12th district, the U.S. Department of Justice gave preclearance to North Carolina’s congressional redistricting plan in 2011.
A longtime incumbent Democrat, Rep. Melvin L. Watt, faces Republican Jack Brosch in the 12th District race.
The Triangle's own 4th District – which pits Rep. David Price, another longtime Democratic incumbent, against Republican Tim D'Annunzio – was the sixth worst in the country.
Nevada, Nebraska and Indian have the least gerrymandered districts in the country, according to the report, and Georgia is best in the Southeast.