Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NC Supreme Court Debacle for Republicans

After last Tuesday, Republicans now securely hold all the levers of power in the state - election tested super majorities in both houses of the Legislature, the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor offices, both US Senate seats and 10 of 13 seats in Congress.  It is becoming harder to say that NC is truly a purple state.

However, all was not rosy for the GOP last Tuesday.

Just before Election Day, we told you about the most important but least known races on your ballot - the races for NC Supreme Court.  Unfortunately, while Republicans romped across the state and the nation, these non-partisan races went heavily for the Democrats where they one all three associate justice races and flipping the seat held by Republican Robert Hunter.

As the smoke clears, it has become obvious the most likely path for Democrats to stop the conservative direction of the state comes in the courts.  That will be much easier to do in coming years.  In the next three election cycles only one of the more conservative justices will be on the ballot.

Flipping one of those seats is all that needs to be done.

Ironically, it appears that one of the voting changes pushed through by the Republican legislature may have helped cause this situation.  Check out this piece over at the The Voter Update.  They postulate that removing straight ticket voting contributed to the dramatic reduction in voter drop off for these non-partisan races this cycle.

Only about 15% of voters skipped these races this year where 25% skipped in the past.  The idea is that under straight ticket voting people thought they voted for these races when in fact they did not.  By removing the straight ticket option, people took a closer look down ballot and did not skip these races as often.

It also could be that the Democrats just did a better job of getting their message out about progressive judges.

Over at TheDailyHaymaker.com commenters relayed stories about conservative activists that would not hand out voter guides that included the judges because of who else was on the ticket.  Here locally, the County Republican party also had trouble fully staffing the polls with volunteers this cycle.  Handing out the judge information is critical on election-day.  Often, it is the only piece of information people will take.  Without it, many voters have no idea who to vote for in these judiciary races.

In a cycle where Republicans won a statewide Senate race and received a majority of the combined votes in the races for US Congress, they somehow missed out on solidifying control of the State Supreme Court.  That's a mistake that could turn out to be costly.

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