Friday, August 23, 2019

The Worst Member of the NC House

Larry Pittman
Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County represents District 83 in the NC House. He first got his seat by appointment late in 2011 and then won election in 2012 and has easily won again every general election since then. He had his first genuine threat to reelection in 2018 in the candidacy of Democrat Gail Young, who came within 1,559 votes of beating Pittman (Pittman 14,798 v. 13,240 Young).

Gail Young has already declared that she's going after Pittman's job again in 2020.

The 83rd House District is mainly in central Cabarrus County (Kannapolis and Concord) but also extends northward into southern Rowan County. The average population of NC House districts is mandated at 79,462; according to Ballotpedia, District 83 had 78,419 citizens as of the 2010 Census, yet only 28,038 of those residents opted to vote in the District 83 race in 2018 -- which suggests that Gail Young has plenty of opportunity there for expansion.

Gail Young
For comparison, in the House District 93 race -- Dem Ray Russell v. Repub Jonathan Jordan -- some 35,983 votes were cast out of basically the same size population base as District 83 (which means that in District 93, almost 8,000 more votes were cast than in District 83). In the District 37 House race in Wake County -- Dem Sydney Batch v. Repub John Adcock -- some 45,680 votes were cast, a whopping 17,642 more votes than in District 83. Clearly, District 83 was underperforming in 2018 something awful, even though it had a credible Democratic candidate running for the first time.

If my voter registration numbers are correct for District 83, the problem for Gail Young is not just general underperformance by all voters but particular underperformance by voters registered as Democrats:

Partisan Registration in NC House District 83
If there is a Republican lean among registered Ds in that district, there may also be a "Larry Pittman fatigue" factor in the 83rd very similar to the Trump fatigue phenomenon, though the turnout by Trump enthusiasts in 2020 isn't expected to slump noticeably. If Trump voters remain enthusiastic, a Democratic win in districts like the 83rd will still be very difficult. I hope the Gail Young campaign is raising money and identifying those voters who are disaffected with Trump -- no matter how they're registered -- and making plans to door-knock or call them. It's going to take large troops of boots-on-the-ground for a Democrat to win in many rural districts in the next presidential year.

No comments: