Based on the recent candidate filings, we can classify North Carolina’s 120 state house districts into one of three types: Democratic candidate(s) only, Republican candidate(s) only, and at least one candidate from both major political parties. (Although some districts do have Libertarian candidates on the ballot, this analysis focuses only on candidates from the two major political parties.)
Sixty-two of the state’s 120 house seats, or 52%, have at least one Republican and one Democrat registered for the 2016 election. Forty-one or 34% of the state house seats have only one candidate running: 19 Democrat and 22 Republican. In 17 other state house districts, only one of the major political parties represented: six districts have only Republicans running, 10 districts have only Democratic candidates registered, and one district has one Democrat and one Libertarian registered. Overall, there are 30 house districts where Democrats are the only major political party represented, 28 districts where Republicans are the only major political party represented, and 62 where candidates from both parties will be on the ballot in November.
Among North Carolina’s 5.2 million active, registered voters, 41% are registered Democrats, 32% are registered Republicans, and 27% are unaffiliated. The chart below highlights how the overall partisan composition of voters varies by candidate affiliation.
In aggregate, the partisan affiliation of registered voters in the 62 state house districts with candidates from both major parties is closer to the statewide voter breakdown than other district types, although there are fewer registered Democrats (36% vs. 41%) and more registered Republicans (35% vs. 32%). The 30 districts with only Democratic candidates have a much higher share of Democratic voters than the state, 62% vs. 41%. Similarly, the 28 districts with only Republican candidates have a higher share of Republican registered voters, 42% vs. 32% statewide.
Like the NC senate districts, these patterns suggest that highly partisan districts are less likely to have challenges from the non-dominant party, although this is not always the case. The graph below shows a scatterplot of the state’s 120 house districts; the district’s share of Democratic registered voters is plotted against its share of registered Republican voters. Generally speaking, the share of Republican registered voters increases as the share of Democratic registered voters decreases, although the relationship is not perfectly linear. Declines in Democratic voter share do not always yield equal increases in Republican voter share due to district variations in the share of voters who are unaffiliated with either political party.
The color of the dots represents the candidate affiliation for each district. Blue dots are districts with only Democratic candidates, red dots represent districts with only Republican candidates, and gray dots represent districts with candidates from both major parties. The less partisan districts—house districts with between 25-40% Republican voters and 30-50% Democratic voters—are much more likely to have candidates from both parties than districts with higher concentrations of partisan voters. Similar to patterns seen among the state senate races, districts where the concentration of Republican voters is 40% or more are more likely to have only Republican candidates, while districts where 50% or more of the voters are Democrats are more likely to have only Democratic candidates.
Although highly partisan house districts are much less likely to have the non-dominant party represented, some of these districts do have challengers from the other party for 2016. Of the 28 house districts where more than 50% of voters are registered Democrat, only three will have candidates from both major parties on the ballot in November: 7, 46, and 101. Among the 22 house districts where more than 40% of voters are registered Republican, nearly half of the districts—districts 67, 69, 70, 74, 78, 81, 84, 90, 94, and 120—have both Republican and Democratic candidates competing for votes in 2016.
Next week: How many voters can’t choose a candidate from their party of choice?
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