10.13.2009 Policy Points

North Carolina’s Changing State House

Despite the recession, North Carolina continues to gain residents. Projections suggest that the population of the Tar Heel State is likely to reach 9.6 million in 2010, up from 8 million in 2000 (a 19 percent rise). Although most of the state’s counties are gaining residents, much of the growth is occurring in a handful of metropolitan counties.

Because seats in the state legislature are apportioned on the basis of population, growth patters will shape the redistricting that will occur following the 2010 census. A new analysis by the Program on Public Life at UNC-Chapel Hill projects that the redistricting will result in a further consolidation of political power in the state’s metropolitan areas.

Key findings include the following:

  • Wake County (Raleigh) has grown by close to 50 percent, and as a result, it likely will gain two seats in the state House and one seat in the state Senate. The Triangle counties of Durham and Johnston also should gain representation.
  • Mecklenburg County (Charlotte) and some of its surrounding counties also have grown and should gain representation, though fights among the counties over how to allocate that representation may arise.
  • Because the Piedmont Triad is growing at a slower rate, its representation may hold level or decline.
  • The coastal communities surrounding Wilmington also are growing, and Brunswick, Pender, and New Hanover counties all are likely to gain seats.

Complete county-level projections are available here.

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