North Carolina's legislative districts have been gerrymandered, favoring Republicans since the party rose to power in the 2010 midterms. Despite modest GOP victories in last year's statewide elections for the U.S. Senate and other contests, Republicans nearly secured veto-proof majorities under revised lines, achieving three-fifths of all seats in the Senate and falling one seat short in the House.
Democrats were hopeful when the state Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion in December ruling that partisan gerrymandering violated North Carolina's constitution. However, their optimism was dampened last month when Democratic state Rep. Tricia Cotham unexpectedly switched her allegiance to the Republican Party after winning a solidly blue open seat in Charlotte suburbs just a year prior.
With GOP legislative dominance poised to grow more entrenched, progressives' most plausible path forward is for Democrats to regain control of North Carolina.
In addition to redistricting challenges, North Carolina Republicans have passed new legislation impacting abortion rights within the state. The 46-page law reduces the cutoff point for most abortions from 20 weeks down to 12 weeks and mandates patients meet with a physician at least 72 hours before undergoing an abortion procedure.
Though considered less restrictive than measures implemented by neighboring states like Tennessee – where abortion after six weeks has been designated as felony – local conservatives view this new law as progress towards reducing terminated pregnancies while increasing safety standards during procedures.
Catholic bishops and anti-abortion demonstrators who have previously staged protests outside North Carolinian clinics see this override as another victory for their cause.
As tensions rise between both political parties over these pressing issues, it remains uncertain how future developments will impact voters throughout North Carolina and beyond its borders.