Republicans Still Viable In Charlotte (Barely)

Nov 11, 2013

Credit WFAE

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.

With Democrat Patrick Cannon only besting Anthony Foxx’s 2009 performance by one point, the behavior of Charlotte’s electorate may indicate that Republican candidates can still be viable, but their pool of electoral support continues to shrink across the city.

In comparing the maps of 2009 and 2013 (both open mayoral races), Charlotte Republicans won a slightly smaller base of precincts in 2013 than four years earlier.

Charlotte Precincts in 2009 for Mayor

Charlotte Precincts in 2013 for Mayor

Both Lassiter and Peacock won in the traditional GOP stronghold of the upside V, starting close to the city’s center and spreading south.  Unlike Lassiter, though, Peacock lost the scattering of precincts in the north, east, and west side of the city, capturing only two precincts in the northwest corner of the city. 

Beyond just a graphic representation of the electoral areas of the city, one can also look at the actual vote performance of both Cannon and Foxx.

If you line up the precincts and their vote totals for Anthony Foxx’s 2009 run and this year’s performance by Patrick Cannon in the same precincts, we find an extremely close relationship between what happened four years ago and this year’s mayoral election.

Based on the graphic to that right that analyzes the relationship between the two Democrats and their vote performance in Charlotte’s precincts, nearly 93% of Patrick Cannon’s vote performance can be explained by Anthony Foxx’s performance in 2009. 

Another interesting aspect of the mayor race was in the early votes cast from registered voters.  In 2009, 48% of Charlotte’s early votes came from registered Democrats, while registered Republicans were a third of the early voters. 

In 2013, however, registered Democratic voters were 59% of the early votes cast, while 23% came from registered GOP voters.

For Patrick Cannon and other Democrats, their dominance of Charlotte city government appears to be solidifying.  For Republicans, it will continue to be a question of the right kind of Republican to run in a deepening blue city, but also that their strategy include having a perfect electoral storm—meaning that Democrats would have to suffer a significant stumble to alienate a future electorate.