Those who pay attention to political minutiae know that North Carolina is the most gerrymandered state in the nation. Indeed, four of the state's thirteen districts made Slate's 2009 list of the 20 most gerrymandered districts. That compares to just three districts in California and two in Illinois. Slate included the infamous NC-12 in its list.* The Twelfth Congressional District, whose shape closely resembles the cartoon that put the term "gerrymander" in America's political lexicon, has featured in several federal court decisions on how lines can and cannot be drawn to create minority-in-the-majority districts under the Voting Rights Act.Read the full article
... While the proposed districts are still not compact and contiguous and the Republicans certainly tried to maximize their advantage, I think it promises some future elections that are more competitive than those in recent years. A good example is how redistricting will impact my congressman, Democrat Heath Shuler. Both versions of the new map remove the city of Asheville, a leftist enclave, from Shuler's 11th district and place it in the 10th district, now held by Republican Patrick McHenry. The old 10th district wrapped the 12th, isolating it from the rest of the state. The new 10th district sheds the conservative northwestern mountain counties to combine Asheville with parts of suburban and ex-urban Charlotte.
Needless to say, denizens of the People's Republic of Asheville have been up in arms, claiming that the move tears the heart out of the district. The evil genius Karl Rove must be behind this dastardly move.
From my point of view, Asheville may still be the commercial hub of the region, but culturally it's increasingly on a different planet. This is confirmed by the Where Americans Are Moving map that Forbes featured last year. While there has been a flood of outsiders into Buncombe County, there has also been an offsetting trend of people who already lived there moving to adjacent counties where there is still a more rural atmosphere. Newcomers may like to think Asheville is part of mountain culture, but to those who live in truly rural areas it might as well be Gastonia with steeper hills -- and better restaurants.