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.

President Obama visited Raleigh to announce the creation of a $140 million consortium of universities and companies to focus on advanced manufacturing.

But the president seemed to acknowledge in his remarks that he does recognize the coming mid-term election year, and is willing to confront what should be a more challenging year than he faced in 2013.

Now that we’re into the 2014 mid-term congressional year (officially), a new analysis by the think tank Third Way has documented an increasing trend: Most voters are not claiming a party affiliation. 

The report finds that since 2008, “there has been an explosion of Independents,” while the “number of registered voters of both parties has been stagnate (in some cases decreasing) in many states.” 

With thoughts turning to the New Year, I thought I would look back at the year of past blog posts that I wrote and what they may hold for the birth of a new political year.

The year of 2013 started with the U.S. House of Representatives and its speaker, John Boehner, coming out of a disastrous “Plan B” alternative to keep the country from going off the preverbal “fiscal cliff.” 

Politicians are notoriously prone to expressing hyperbole in their defense or attack on policies, especially when the policy comes from the opposite side of the political aisle.

But there are times when the hyperbole goes too far, and in our political discourse, it seems that some politicians can launch a broadside attack purely out of context and not deal with the resulting damage.

Recently, NC state senator Bob Rucho, Republican from Matthews, sent out the following Tweet:

­Now that the “nuclear option” has been deployed in the United States Senate, many observers have begun wondering what might be the fallout from such a move. 

The standing line for most presidential aspirations goes, “what does every first-term president want? A second term.” However, it may be something future presidents want to reconsider.

With the past four presidents who served a second term (Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Obama), the fifth year seems to be one that they would all rather have done without.

But there are two key differences between the presidents of the 1980s and 1990s and those who held the office in the 21st Century.

In looking at this year’s Charlotte mayoral election, many observers believed that the election would determine whether the city had become like other national urban areas, a Democratic dominion, or if a GOP candidate could still perform at a level of political relevanIn the end, Republican Edwin Peacock’s candidacy mirrored that of the GOP’s performance from four years ago: he lost with 47% of the vote, one point below 2009’s GOP candidate, John Lassiter, in the last open mayoral contest.

As a result of the government shutdown, Americans are genuinely frustrated with the way that politicians are handling their governing system. 

In a recent Pew Research Center poll, only 14% of respondents said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States; a Gallup Poll found only 18% were satisfied with the way the nation was being governed. 

A recent article in the Charlotte Observer had the headline asking, “Voting fight: Is it race or politics?”

For intensely partisan observers, the redistricting fight is either racial or political. But, in looking deeper into the numbers nowadays, the answer is that the voting fight is much more race and politics. 

Going into the future, however, it could be ‘or’ rather than ‘and’ when it comes to racial politics in North Carolina.

With Washington’s mess garnering the nation’s attention, many voters would like a chance to register their complaints against DC right now. And while they will have to wait until next spring’s primary elections and the general election a year from now, some voters will have their chance to express their votes in the coming weeks.

I say “some” voters because very few voters cast their ballots in odd-year elections, one of which is Charlotte.