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.

For an ‘odd-year’ in the election cycle, it was a pretty intense one, from the local level in Charlotte to the state and the nation. I’m reminded of just how intense taking a look back at some of the blog posts I wrote in 2015. 

With the controversy surrounding the I-77 toll lane project ­­continuing to swirl, the policy issues of whether the contract should be canceled, and who has that power, has become a political hot potato.

While Gov.  Pat McCrory this week made a “formal” announcement video via Twitter for his re-election bid, another video released a week earlier also provides a good sense of how the incumbent is planning a campaign strategy.

Michael Bitzer
WFAE

In a recent opinion piece, the Charlotte Observer notes that perhaps this year’s Charlotte mayoral election paints the city more ‘purplish’ than partisan in its leanings. And at first glance, Democrat Jennifer Roberts’ victory over Republican Edwin Peacock with 52 percent of the vote certainly fall into the range that political scientists would describe as a ‘competitive’ election.

So what should we expect in Charlotte’s local elections Tuesday?

With the start of early voting for the upcoming election for Charlotte’s mayor, and many other local offices, the expectations are for a low voter turnout—most would be surprised by a turnout rate of 20 percent or higher.

Just two years ago, Charlotte saw a competitive election that pitted Republican Edwin Peacock (running again this year) against Democrat Patrick Cannon, who resigned from his office less than six months after winning with 53 percent of the vote.

The voting statistics clearly favor Democrat Jennifer Roberts over her former city council colleague, Republican Edwin Peacock, in the race for Charlotte mayor.

Since 2009, the city’s Republican registration has gone from 27 to 23 percent. The percentage of Democrats have gone up 1 point, to 49 percent. And, unaffiliated voters now outnumber Charlotte Republicans, representing 28 percent of registered voters – a 5 percent increase.

House Speaker John Boehner's resignation wasn't a complete surprise, but the timing took many off guard since his announcement came only one day after the pope's address to Congress.

Boehner seemed relaxed, having sung “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” on his way to publicly announce the decision. But for his time in the speakership, Boehner had to deal with a growing hard conservative insurgency within his own conference, thanks to the group that brought him to the speaker’s chair: the Tea Party.

By Tuesday night, we should know the Democratic and Republican nominees in Charlotte’s mayoral race.

While some contend that personalities may be the dominant feature of local elections, party loyalty and attachment are more of a driver of local elections than some may realize.

First, a little background on the transition that Mecklenburg County has undergone in its voting pattern, especially due to the 800-pound gorilla that is the city of Charlotte.

Michael Bitzer
WFAE

With the start of school, some Shakespearean snippets on the silly season we are all suffering through in politics:

Wednesday’s Charlotte Talks will speak with Kristen Soltis Anderson, author of “The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America,” along with a researcher from the Pew Research Center on the role of the newest generation that is now shaping society, and the American electorate.

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