Pantsless Progressive

Before this year, there were no Senate districts with a [black voting age population (BVAP)] of 50 percent or higher. Now there are nine. A lawsuit filed by the NAACP and other advocacy groups calls the redistricting maps ‘an intentional and cynical use of race that exceeds what is required to ensure fairness to previously disenfranchised racial minority voters.’

And it’s not just happening in North Carolina. In virtually every state in the South, at the Congressional and state level, Republicans—to protect and expand their gains in 2010—have increased the number of minority voters in majority-minority districts represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats while diluting the minority vote in swing or crossover districts held by white Democrats. ‘What’s uniform across the South is that Republicans are using race as a central basis in drawing districts for partisan advantage,’ says Anita Earls, a prominent civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. ‘The bigger picture is to ultimately make the Democratic Party in the South be represented only by people of color.’ The GOP’s long-term goal is to enshrine a system of racially polarized voting that will make it harder for Democrats to win races on local, state, federal and presidential levels. Four years after the election of Barack Obama, which offered the promise of a new day of post-racial politics in states like North Carolina, Republicans are once again employing a Southern Strategy that would make Richard Nixon and Lee Atwater proud. […]

According to data compiled by Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, precincts that are 90 percent white have a 3 percent chance of being split, and precincts that are 80 percent black have a 12 percent chance of being split, but precincts with a BVAP between 15 and 45 percent have a 40 percent chance of being split. Republicans ‘systematically moved [street] blocks in or out of their precincts on the basis of their race,’ found Ted Arrington, a redistricting expert at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. ‘No other explanation is possible given the statistical data.’

Ari Berman: How the GOP Is Resegregating the South


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