I originally posted this diary at DailyKos, but James asked me to cross-post here, and I'm more than happy to comply. I just purged a few errors from the diary that DailyKos users pointed out.
Let's start with a short discussion of how North Carolina Politics worked: Then as now, both Republicans and Democrats had a strong presence in the state. Throughout the 80s, Republicans carried the state on a Presidential level, although Jimmy Carter came close in his national landslide loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The Senate delegation was definitely dominated by Senator Jesse Helms, an arch-conservative Republican. He had survived a strong challenge by then-Governor Jim Hunt in 1984 and faced another competitive race against black Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt in 1990 (he won again).
The other seat had been held by Republican John East-- a Helms ally. When East committed suicide in 1986, former Democratic Governor Terry Sanford managed to defeat Jim Broyhill-- a Congressman from Western North Carolina and from the more moderate wing of the Republican Party. Sanford proved to be a rather liberal Democrat in the Senate and lost reelection in 1992 to the Helms-backed Lauch Faircloth.
The incumbent Governor was Republican Jim Martin for the latter part of the decade-- after Jim Hunt ran for Senate, Martin won the 1984 and 1988 Gubernatorial races, and built up a party machine rivaling Helms' "Congressional Club".
As you might have guessed by now, the Republican Party in the state was divided between two factions- both conservative by national standards when measured up against liberal New England Republicans, but often divided on rhetoric and state-wide issues.
But the Democrats feuded as well, with the more moderate/progressive faction led by former Governor Hunt facing off against more conservative traditional Dixiecrats.
In terms of regional patterns, we have to remind ourselves that the 1980s saw much different trends than we do today.
In the 21th century, of course, we see much the same patterns in North Carolina that we do nationally: Democrats dominate every major city in the state, as well as minority -heavy rural areas (Lumbee's on some of the South Carolina border, African-Americans east of Raleigh and Durham).
In 1980, the state had a much stronger East-West divide. The Eastern half of the state, including the rural conservative Whites there, usually backed Democratic candidates by large margins. The notable exception here is Wake County (Raleigh), which was a Republican-leaning county, not totally averse to Democrats, but usually favoring Republicans. Towards the latter part of the decade it started its blue trend, which has made it hostile territory for Republicans by now.
The same was true in the Triad-- in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, which provided President Obama with crucial votes in 2008. Then, they cast over 400,000 votes, of which President Obama took more than 56%-- enough to put him over the top statewide.
But in the 80s they were pretty red and usually voted a couple of points more Republican than the statewide average.
The Democratic base thus was mostly the rural vote in the Eastern part of the state, and the cities of Wilmington and Fayetteville, while Republicans mostly drew their strength from the Protestant areas between Greensboro and Charlotte, with the I-40 cluster of cities (Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Burlington, Durham, Raleigh) deciding the elections.
North Carolina's First District
District Center: Greenville
Today's Presidential Vote: 51.0% McCain-48.3% Obama
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 32% Black, 1% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 29% Black, 4% Hispanic
Back then, the rural East of North Carolina was solidly Democratic territory. Both the resident African-Americans and the rural Whites voted for Democrats in large margins. Although the latter group wasn't too fond of national Democrats, they mostly still bit the bullet. The district voted for George H. W. Bush for President in 1988, but by only 8 points--an R+1 district, although in NC that didn't mean much to local politics.
The huge local issues are Fisheries, Tobacco and Peanuts, and the Congressman, Democrat Walter B. Jones (Sr.) was the right man to look after them- and he has done that forever.
Although personally conservative he usually votes liberal on national issues to make sure national Democrats don't take any of the important subcommitteeships that he holds away from him, as he is chairing the Subcommittee on the Merchant Marine and sitting on the subcommittees on Cotton and Tobacco and Peanuts.
What happened later?
Jones decided to retire in 1990 at age 77, and the Bush DoJ pressed through a reconfiguration of Eastern North Carolina's Congressional Districts, making the First District the black-majority district it is today. Jones' son, Walter B. Jones Jr., lost the primary to replace his father by four points to African-American County Commissioner Eva Clayton, never to be heard from again (or not?). Clayton served five terms and was then replaced by current incumbent G.K. Butterfield, with a short interim tenure by Congressman Frank Ballance which was quickly ended by both health and legal problems.
North Carolina's Second District
District Center: Durham
Today's Presidential Vote: 63.1% Obama - 36.1% McCain
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 36% Black, 1% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 39% Black, 7% Hispanic, 2% Asian
The Second District was an odd mix of heavily black areas east of Raleigh and the city of Durham, connected by a string of white-majority, ancestrally Democratic counties on the Virginia border. For good-measure, heavily Republican Nash County was thrown in. Durham, before the influx of Northern Liberals into the Research Triangle, was more conservative than it is now.
The district was still, both due to the ancestral Democratic traditions of the Whites and the strong blue leaning of the African-Americans, solidly Democratic and voted for Dukakis in 1988, narrowly.
The more interesting race here was the primary: African-Americans made up about 40-45% of the electorate and mounted two strong primary challenges against incumbent Tim Valentine in the 80s, both of which narrowly fell short in the run-off-- something that caused Jesse Jackson Sr. to argue passionately for the abolition of run-off elections on the Presidential campaign trail in 1984 and 1988.
Valentine was a conservative Democrat, more so than Jones in the 1st district. He wasn't exactly a rubber-stamp for Reagan-Bush policies, but he voted with both parties around 50% of the time, getting an ACU score of 48 and an ACLU score of 52.
But he was attentive to local issues, looking after the local tobacco industry, which was huge in the district.
What happened later?
Population growth caused Durham to be taken out of the district in the 1990 redistricting-- it shifted clockwise around Wake County more towards the position it is in now. That caused the Black percentage of the district to drop to the high 20s, and made the district also more Republican through the inclosure of suburban counties like Lee and Harnett.
Valentine retired in 1994, and the wave swept an unremarkable one-term Republican in who was beaten by Democrat Bob Etheridge. Etheridge, a founding member of the Blue Dog Democrats was a perfect fit of the district and served until he was beaten in 2010 by Tea Party Republican Renee Ellmers in a tight race that was overshadowed by Etheridge assaulting two teenagers who had aggressively tracked him with a camera.
North Carolina's Third District
District Center: Goldsboro
Today's Presidential Vote: 57.2% McCain, 41.0% Obama
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 25% Black, 2% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 21% Black, 10% Hispanic
The Third District of North Carolina, dominated by the fishing, tobacco and textile mill industry. Less African-American than the neighboring First District, it votes almost exactly as much more Republican on a federal level, backing Bush over Dukakis by a 58-42 margin.
Nevertheless, local Democrat Martin Lancaster seems completely safe. He is, much like Valentine, on the mid-point between national liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, with interest group ratings in the 40s from conservative groups and in the 60s from liberal groups like COPE and ACLU. On a state-wide level he allied himself mostly with rather progressive Democrats like Jim Hunt.
He protects local interests and seems well attuned to his district, serving on the Armed Service Committee in a district with many military bases.
What happened later?
The creation of a majority-black district threw a major wrench in Lancaster's career. It forced the third district to move North significantly to where it is today-- to soak up the white areas previously in the 1st district. Lancaster's base in Goldsboro was kept in the district, and he managed a win in 1992.
However, in 1994, Walter Jones Jr. decided to challenge Lancaster as a Republican in a district that was more similar to his dad's old 1st district than to Lancaster's old 3rd, and managed to tie him to national Democrats, winning by six points.
Jones has held the district since then despite a few idiosyncrasies that have brought him at odds with national Republicans at times (he is a Libertarian who supports Ron Paul).
North Carolina's Fourth District
District Center: Raleigh
Today's Presidential Vote: 55.5% Obama, 43.5% McCain
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 18% Black, 1% Hispanic, 1% Asian
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 17% Black, 8% Hispanic, 5% Asian
For people who have drawn North Carolina last year themselves it must be astonishing to see all of these areas in one district-- today they're big enough for two. 1.3 million people live in the district's lines today, not the around 700,000 that did in 1990 or the 533,580 that did when the district was drawn in 1980 (One interesting note: One Man one Vote wasn't that strictly enforced in 1980, districts followed a rule more akin to what DRA mappers follow-- keep it as low as is practicable, maybe plus or minus 1,500).
This is the only district that even in the 1980s contained a sizeable number of white liberals in the Research Triangle. Yet in 1986 it was held by Jesse Helms-Republican Bill Cobey, who had beat rural Democrat Ike Andrews in 1984--- rural Democrats just didn't appeal to Raleigh voters, and Andrews was dogged by a DUI conviction. And Mike Dukakis didn't play all that well with these voters either, losing the district by 11 points to George H. W. Bush.
1986 the Democrats nominated a candidate more in tune with the district-- College Professor David Price. Price was a Baptist lay minister, shielding him much from attacks from the religious right, and as a PoliSci professor he saw that he could be successful by appealing to young, modern, moderate Independents born out of state. It worked-- he beat Cobey by 12 points.
Price was a moderate Democrat of a different kind. When "moderate Democrat" otherwise mostly meant culturally conservative Democrats getting home the pork and voting for big-government nationally, Price was a socially liberal Democrat who could still be a pain for national Democrats-- for example when he voted against the Speaker's budget in 1987, and against an $11 billion deficit cutting bill (through tax increases) almost universally opposed by Republicans and favored by 85% of Democrats.
Yet, Price won reelection by 14 points and has been safe ever since.
What happened later?
The 1990 redistricting removed most of the rural areas from Price's district and put Durham in instead. Price became a solid liberal throughout the 1990s as his district got solidly blue. Although Price got voted out in the 1994 disaster for Democrats in North Carolina and all over the nation, the district soon returned to its newfound blue roots and voted Price back in in a 1996 rematch, by a crushing 11-point margin. In 2010 Price has been thrown together with fellow incumbent Brad Miller in a primary in a district spanning from Chapel Hill over Raleigh, which is now in Brad Miller's district to Fayetteville.
North Carolina's Fifth District
District Center: Winston-Salem
Today's Presidential Vote: 53.7% McCain, 45.2% Obama
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 15% Black, 1% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 16% Black, 7% Hispanic
The Fifth District included most of the Piedmont. Dominated by the textile mill industry and by Methodists, it voted solidly Republican on every level. Bush won the district 60-40.
Yet, in Congress it was represented by a Democrat. Stephen Neal was swept in by the Watergate Scandal in 1974, and held on narrowly enough, year after year. He was a pretty liberal Democrat on most issues, although more a DLC-er in style than a progressive, having pushed through banking deregulation and Greenspan's monetary policies as Chairman of the Monetary Policy subcommittee and sitting on the Regulation and Insurance as well as Housing Subcommittees.
But he paid attention to local issues, and his constituents liked his down-to-earth persona just well-enough to keep him in office year after year-- but forcing him to sweat every cycle as well, mostly being outspent 2:1 by the Republicans.
What happened later?
The district wasn't substantially affected by redistricting. Neal narrowly held on in the first election under the new lines in 1992, but -probably wisely- retired before the wave election of 1994 which brought his 1992 opponent Richard Burr into office.
Burr was a religious right Republican and got elected to the US Senate in 2004 upon the retirement of Senator John Edwards to run for President. His successor was the current Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, another member of the Religious Right.
North Carolina's Sixth District
District Center: Greensboro
Today's Presidential Vote: 51.6% Obama, 47.5% McCain
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 19% Black, 1% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 24% Black, 6% Hispanic, 3% Asian
The center of the Textile Mill industry of the State (located in High Point) and solidly Republican on a Presidential level, the Sixth District voted around 94,000-71,000 for Reagan over Carter, and 61-39% for Bush over Dukakis.
Yet, on a Congressional level it was a Swing district for most of the 80s, having unseated its incumbent in 1980, 1982 and 1984. The last of these elections was when Howard Coble was elected to the seat. A moderate (by state-wide standards) Republican heavily opposed by the Helms-faction in the primary, he beat the incumbent Democrat by 1% in 1984 and by 79 votes in a 1986 rematch, while winning easily in 1988 over a lower-tier Democrat.
Coble voted mostly party-line Republican, however, he was a strong protectionist for the local textile mill industry, and thus voted against some of President Reagan's free-trade policies. His widely-attested personal likability also made him likely to be a good bet to stay longer in office than his three predecessors- quote Almanac:
Coble is a friendly man who asks visitors if they mind if he smokes his cheap cigars; he likes bluegrass music and eats pork brains and eggs for breakfast.
What happened later?
Nothing. Coble is still in office today, now an octogenarian. His district has been made solidly Republican in 1990, with parts of Greensboro being given to Burr, and the new iteration gave an eight-point advantage to Bob Dole in 1996 and voted 64-35 for the younger Bush over Al Gore.
North Carolina's Seventh District
District Center: Wilmington
Today's Presidential Vote: 51.8% Obama, 47.4% McCain
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 25% Black, 7% Native, 2% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 27% Black, 7% Native, 6% Hispanic
The seventh district: Spanning from Wilmington to Fayetteville, this is a district heavy on military-issues, including Ft. Bragg, and including a lot of tobacco farmers.
It is also unique among the districts east of the Mississippi in having a sizeable Native American population consisting of Lumbees.
This district is prime territory for Democrats in NC-- at least at this point in time-- and regularly provides huge margins of victory for any Democrat. Mike Dukakis came within three points of carrying it in 1988, and Carter won around 71,000 votes here to Reagan's 57,000- about a 10% victory.
Incumbent ninth-term Democrat Charlie Rose isn't one to let the district slip away from Democrats. He is a solid liberal Democrat, scoring just an 11 rating by the ACU. He supported Charlie Rangel for House Whip in 1986, and Phil Burton, a liberal California Democrat over Jim Wright, a moderate Texan Democrat, a House Speaker in 1976.
He is a protectionist and very attentive to the issues of the Tobacco industry, chairing the Tobacco and Peanuts Subcommittee, and entirely safe in his district.
Northern liberals are happy to concede the Tobacco issue to Rose and his North Carolina fellow Democrats for Rose's support on any other national issue-Rose voting down the line liberal on economic issues, being pro-choice and pro-gun control.
What happened later?
Rose kept the district easily until 1994, where he won by three points, and retired in 1996 after badly losing in challenging Dick Gephardt for Minority Whip. By then, it had drifted more conservative, and part of Fayetteville had been removed to go to the 8th District. Conservative Democrat Mike McIntyre narrowly won both the primary and General elections-- the first over a liberal Lumbee Democrat, the second over a conservative Republican. He hasn't been challenged seriously ever since until 2010, when he convincingly won re-election in the wave year of 2010.
North Carolina's Eighth District
District Center: Salisbury
Today's Presidential Vote: 59.2% McCain, 39.1% Obama
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 18% Black, 1% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 17% Black, 7% Hispanic
The 8th district of the 1980s wasn't a particularly good CoI-- half of it were Confederate, Tobacco-farming counties on the South Carolina border, that heavily backed local Democrats, while the other half was part of the Piedmont, dominated by the textile mill industry, with a heavy ground-swell of the Religious Right, never even secessionist, much less Dixiecrat territory.
Yet, much like the 5th district, it is represented by a Democrat who was swept in by the Watergate scandal that much outraged the moralist residents of the Piedmont.
Bill Hefner was a moderate Democrat-- not a super-conservative like most Deep South Democrats who voted significantly more with Republicans than with Northern Liberals, but roughly in the middle of the House ideologically.
He managed to win reelection throughout the 70s mostly through his folksy charm-- he was a local radio Country music disc jockey for much of the area from 1954-1974, and through watching out for both the Tobacco and Textile industry with his fellow Democrats from the state delegation, who managed to convince the House leadership that they, and their votes for most Democratic big-ticket items, would disappear if either of these industries was hurt by free trade measures or regulations. He also was chairing the Subcommittee of Military Construction, which enabled him to get a lot of pork to the 8th district and Fort Bragg, a slice of which he represented.
Throughout the 80s, his margins of reelection got narrower-- he won with 51% in 1984 against a Helms-backed Republican, and with 52% in 1988. It is notable that it was mostly Republican presidential turnout that endangered Hefner-- even Gerald Ford won the district outside of the border counties by 3,000 votes against Southern darling Jimmy Carter, although Carter broke 65% in all of the border counties, and 75% in one of them.
In off-years Hefner was mostly safe.
Hopes of Democrats were that Hefner, who had already had had a heart attack in 1985, would survive the 1990-1992 cycle both physically and electorally, so that they could shore up the district later by removing some of the Piedmont Counties and giving them to the new 12th district that everyone knew North Carolina would get.
What happened later?
Hefner did win in 1990, and his district was shored up a bit, losing a few of the smaller Piedmont Counties. He also survived 1994 and 1996, but retired in 1998. Former gubernatorial candidate Robin Hayes carried the seat by three points for the Republicans--- the vote patterns in the confederate and Piedmont counties hadn't changed much, but Union County (Monroe) had both grown in terms of population and turned into a Republican exurb of Charlotte, which voted 65-35 for Hayes.
In 2000, Democrats added arms into both Fayetteville and Charlotte to the district to add African-American voters to the district and excising the Republican part of Union to make Hayes less secure. Yet, Hayes won in 2002, 2004 and 2006 by increasingly narrow margins, and was finally defeated in 2008 by Larry Kissell, as Barack Obama narrowly carried the district over John McCain, and won reelection in 2010.
It remains to be seen whether Kissell can win the altered version of the 8th, to which the Republicans restored some of the Piedmont it had lost in 1990.
North Carolina's Ninth District
District Center: Charlotte
Today's Presidential Vote: 55.9% Obama, 43.3% McCain
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 21% Black, 1% Hispanic, 1% Asian
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 25% Black, 10% Hispanic, 4% Asian
Charlotte was then, as it would be now, the center of the district. Nowadays, Mecklenburg County alone more than fills a Congressional District, but in 1980, it had to add some surrounding counties to have enough population for even one.
The 9th district was dominated by moderate(-ish) Republicans. The Republicans of the county didn't want to hear much of the cultural conservatism of Jesse Helms-- Harvey Gantt was of course elected the mayor of Charlotte in the 1980s, and even though Mecklenburg County just barely backed Jimmy Carter in 1976 and voted for Republicans in 1980, 1984 and 1988 for President (Bush almost cracked 60%), it backed favorite son Gantt by a 58-42 margin over Helms in the divisive 1990 Senate race that Gantt lost.
The Congressman for the early 80s was Jim Martin, who was then elected Governor and fought Jesse Helms for the domination of the state party, his successor was another moderate Republican, Alex McMillan, who although strongly conservative on economic, classical social and fiscal issues, had been a civil rights activist and supported extensive Housing programs and drug treatment centers for inner cities.
McMillan was generally considered safe in his district.
What happened later?
McMillan retired in 1994 and was replaced by Sue Myrick, another Republican in the less openly in-your-face Jesse Helms tradition. The African-American areas of Charlotte were excised to both the 8th and the newly created 12th African-American majority district, and the 9th is one of the least competitive districts in the state.
North Carolina's Tenth District
District Center: Hickory
Today's Presidential Vote: 60.3% McCain, 38.7% Obama
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 9% Black, 1% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 10% Black, 4% Hispanic, 2% Asian
Much like the 8th district, the 10th district had a North-South division-- the South Carolina border area was Southern, Dixiecrat, George Wallace Country, the northern part of the district was so heavily Republican that it never voted for a Democrat for President, except for some of it in the Landslide of 1964-- but it didn't vote for Roosevelt, Cox or Wilson or any other Democrat.
The Northern counties outvoted the Southern ones, and so it elected Republicans rather reliably at least since the 60s, when Charlotte growth started to make Gaston County a bit less monolithically Democratic.
But the Republicans were mostly moderates on a state-wide level (of course arch-conservative nationally), and Jesse Helms can't have shed many tears when the 10th district Congressman James Broyhill lost the Senate race to replace John East in 1986. But Broyhill was replaced by a like-minded man in the House, Cass Ballenger.
Ballenger was a mostly back-bencher Republican in the House, who didn't raise many waves and was mostly uncontroversial.
The district had existed in that form since the 30s and was unlikely to ever change much.
What happened later?
Ballenger served until 2004. He didn't see his district much changed in that time, just that the Southern counties, too, turned solidly Republican. In 2004, Patrick McHenry won the district. Since it will be utilized in cracking Asheville in the 2010 redistricting by Republicans, the shape of the district will change significantly, but McHenry isn't regarded to be really vulnerable.
North Carolina's Eleventh District
District Center: Asheville
Today's Presidential Vote: 53.5% McCain, 45.3% Obama
Historical District Demographics by VAP: 5% Black, 1% Native, 1% Hispanic
Modern District Demographics by VAP: 4% Black, 4% Hispanic, 1% Native
The 11th-- basically always the same, never altered much by redistricting, at least until 2010. Always Republican-leaning, but not prohibitively red.
Bush won this district 59-40, which made it a R+5 district at the time, and then as now it was heavily competed.
Much of the 80s saw a back and forth between Democrat James Clarke and Republican Bill Hendon-- the Baron Hill and Mike Sodrel of their time.
Hendon had beat the incumbent Democrat in 1980 as part of the Reagan landslide--then he lost the district to Clarke in 1982, came back to beat Clarke in the 1984 Reagan landslide and lost it again, to Clarke, in 1986, at which point he gave up.
Clarke had survived 1988 by just 1500 votes and was for sure not a safe bet for reelection, especially since it was clear the district wouldn't be altered under redistricting.
Clarke was a loyal North Carolina Democrat-- not a liberal, but not a pain-in-the-ass to national Democrats. He, also like most North Carolina Democrats, managed to secure valuable committee assignments in return, in his case, to the Subcommittees on Energy and the Environment and on National Parks and Public Lands.
Most of his district's industry were dominated by the wood industry and apple tree farmers, and Clarke watched out for them, such as in 1987 when he secured funding for apple tree farmers after a winter that ruined a lot of their stock.
What happened later?
Taylor beat Clarke in a rematch in 1990 that was about as narrow as their initial race, and managed to secure a footing in the district. He managed to get on the Appropriations Committee and directed a lot of pork towards the district. His undoing, apparently, was to fail to vote on CAFTA in 2004, an error which he blamed on a defect voting card. Yet, his Democratic opponent Heath Shuler hammered him on failing to vote the Protectionist way to help out the textile mills in the district, and beat him by 11 points in 2006.
Shuler survived 2008 and 2010, but is looking at a tough reelection fight in 2012 as Republicans cut the core of Asheville out of the district, historically the Democratic base here.
Alright, that's it. I had fun writing the diary, and if you really read everything up to here, thank you very much. I hope it was enjoyable.