Michael Bitzer

Political Columnist

Dr. Michael Bitzer is an associate professor of politics and history at Catawba College, where he also serves as the 2011-2012 Swink Professor for Excellence in Classroom Teaching and the chair of the department of history & politics.  A native South Carolinian, he holds graduate degrees in both history and political science from Clemson University and The University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. Dr. Bitzer’s studies have focused on Southern politics, campaigns and elections, and a variety of topics in American politics.

When the framers devised a governing system, the one thing they feared the most—and sought to avoid at all costs—was allowing any one entity to gain or control too much power.

The reason being, in the words of James Madison, was found within human nature — that the acquisition of power typically leads to wanting more power. So why not use the same principle in trying to ensure that one group doesn’t get more power: in Madison’s words in Federalist 51, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

Now that the mid-term 2014 election is behind us, some thoughts and reflections before we move on to 2016.

First, the results are what most would have expected. We’re still awaiting the final data from the state Board of Elections as to the partisan and racial composition of those who cast ballots, but the exit poll results give some hint of a mid-term electorate that wasn’t like a presidential year.

Now that we have phase one of the voting process completed in North Carolina, namely the in-person early voting, all that we have to do is await the final results on Tuesday’s Election Day.

In 2008’s and 2012, 61 percent of the ballots cast came before Election Day, with thirty-eight percent coming in on Election Day.

But in 2010, only 35 percent of the ballots came before Election Day, while in 2006, only 21 percent came early.

With the first four days of in-person early voting under way, the number of voters showing up to cast ballots in North Carolina indicates that there appears to be an energy level that may be running against the grain of conventional wisdom.

With three weeks to go, a lot of prognostication is going on in the political analysis universe.

The idyllic vision of political debates is that they serve as an opportunity for the candidates to share their thoughts and ideas on issues of public policy, to engage with their opponents and clearly delineate where they stand from the other side and how they would impact public policy.

While we had a ‘debate’ of sorts on Tuesday and Thursday evenings between incumbent U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and challenger Thom Tillis, what we really got was a gloves-off slugfest of aggressive talking points. In other words, a no-holds brawl rather than a debate.

As we enter the last weeks of the general campaign, North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race has some analysts believing that the Hagan-Tillis battle is defying the normal expectations.

As we head into the final weeks of the general election campaign, attention is turning to who will make up the electorate, with a focus on North Carolina’s fastest-growing voter group: unaffiliated.

The U.S. Senate race between Republican challenger Thom Tillis and Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan seems to be taking a notable shift in tone and approach, seemingly driven by gender.

Never mind that the race is between a man and a woman; the issues, ads, and even the polling have become representative of the classic ‘gender gap’ that surfaces within American politics.

Much has been made about the ‘enthusiasm’ gap that may be prevalent going into this year’s mid-term elections. Traditionally, the party in control of the White House has diminished enthusiasm about voting in mid-term elections.