RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Charlotte on Thursday meeting with state lawmakers about abortion access as this year’s election in North Carolina will determine whether there are significant changes to state laws.
Republicans in the General Assembly are aiming to retake their veto-proof, three-fifths supermajority and have said that legislation regarding abortion will be a top priority when the next legislative session begins in January.
Even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, they did not pursue additional restrictions on abortion, recognizing that Gov. Roy Cooper (D) would veto those bills and that they do not have the votes currently to override him.
It’s become a critical issue in this year’s election.
“There are a number of competitive districts in both chambers that if Republicans have a very good year could meet the supermajority status in both chambers,” said Michael Bitzer, an expert in state politics at Catawba College. “I give them a slight advantage in the state Senate just because they’re building off of more sure Republican districts.”
Bitzer analyzed the recent voting history in legislative districts across the state to determine where the most competitive races will be.
For Republicans to retake the supermajority, they need to gain three seats in the state House of Representatives and two seats in the state Senate.
“Republicans are much more engaged. They typically have higher turnout levels in midterms,” Bitzer said. “The best bet right now for Democrats, is going to be keeping at least one chamber under supermajority numbers.”
He looked at who voters chose in the 2020 election in the races for President, U.S. Senate and Governor in putting together his analysis.
He identified 10 out of 50 Senate districts considered competitive. Six of those lean Democratic and four lean Republican. Additionally, he says there are 22 in the House considered competitive. Of those, seven lean Republican and 15 lean Democratic. To view Bitzer’s analyses click here and here.
To view the maps of the House and Senate districts, click here.
Bitzer said Republicans “will be targeting those competitive districts that tend to lean slightly to the Democrats because they have built-in advantages this year going into November.”
The most intense battles are likely to play out in Wake and Mecklenburg counties in districts that are outside the urban centers of Raleigh and Charlotte, Bitzer said.
He described the vice president’s visit Thursday as “the beginning salvo of the November general election campaign.”
While voters have repeatedly cited the economy and inflation as their top concerns in this year’s election, Bitzer noted that state lawmakers will have a much more direct role in shaping policy on abortion.
As voters have become more polarized in their political preferences, he said the rhetoric about the issue will be stark.
“You have to scare people. You have to threaten them. You have to put the fear of God into them in order to motivate voters to show up and basically vote against the opposing party,” he said.