Sorting Our Polarized Politics - Dr Michael Bitzer
Looking at the map of Mecklenburg county in the above link, one thing that jumped out at me was how Davidson's Precinct 206 sits like a spot of Carolina Blue in a sea of NC State Red at the county's northern edge. (I could have used Duke Blue Devil blue, but according to Dr Bitzer's analysis, the Davidson Village isn't even that blue anymore.) It is especially interesting considering Davidson's other town precinct, PCT 127, is just as red as all the other precincts in the area.
How long the 206 can hold onto its blue status is anyone's guess, but with Charlotte effectively in Democratic lockdown and constantly pushing to raise taxes it is a safe bet more Republicans will be fleeing to the northern burbs in coming years. Davidson already has slightly more Republicans (3024) than Democrats (2879) - a fact that shocks most people who think of Davidson as the stereotypical college town - meaning solidly progressive. The reality is that Davidson is both. It is a highly progressive town with a lot of conservative voters. Incidentally, Unafilliated voters actually hold the top spot in town with 3036 registered voters as of today, 10/17 per MeckBOE.org.
Davidson is a prime example of how self sorting can play out even in a small town with only two precincts. The in-town Village PCT 206 is strongly influenced by New Urbanism while the automobile-centric PCT 127 resembles traditional suburban development patterns. These styles attract different people and that is reflected in different results at the ballot box. The challenge for the town in coming years will be to figure out to accommodate both.
While self sorting in Davidson won't make a difference in this year's State and Federal elections, its impact is already being seen in its municipal elections. Take a look at the below chart of last year's municipal election results. You can see that half of the elected officials rely very heavily on the 206 for their votes. While the other half more or less attract half of their votes from each town precinct and more closely resemble the percentage of total turnout from each precinct. It should come as no surprise that those who rely heavily on one precinct also received the fewest total votes.
A good example of the results of practicing the politics of polarization.