North Carolina Republicans won control of the state legislature for the first time in over a century in 2010, just in time for redistricting. Their gerrymanders gave them nine out of 13 congressional seats and veto-proof legislative margins in 2012 despite losing the popular vote for both bodies. Once Gov. Pat McCrory took office in 2013, they set about passing voter ID and ending same-day registration. Soon they will modify state Supreme Court elections solely to avoid losing control of the body in 2016. Control of the state board of elections even allowed them to reorganize voter precincts to inconvenience college students and minorities.
But not content with their vise grip on the legislature, state Republicans have taken it upon themselves to rig the rules right down to the local level. In 2014 they lost control of the county commission of Wake County, home of Raleigh. In response, Republicans ended at-large elections, gerrymandered the map to give themselves a one-seat majority, and moved the elections solely to midterms starting in 2018 for an extra edge in turnout. Similarly, the legislature had already gerrymandered the county's school board and county commissions in other large Democratic counties such as Buncombe (Asheville) and Mecklenburg (Charlotte).
Now, they are moving on to the city council in Greensboro, the state's third-largest city and one that is majority non-white. Democrats currently have an eight to one majority on the nonpartisan nine-member council, which is unsurprising in a city Obama carried two to one. But after elections are held this November, Republicans could have as many as four of the seats and if they win the mayor's office, they would have a majority. This comes after the legislature previously gerrymandered the Guilford County commission and school board, meaning the nearly 300,000 residents of Greensboro will have literally all of their local government districts gerrymandered by the state government.
What do almost all of these local institutions have in common? Democrats can and likely will win the popular vote every single year yet might not win control despite that. As more major counties and cities trend Democratic, expect to see Republicans meddling more in local affairs and making a mockery of the concept of self government. Just imagine if congressional Republicans had the ability to gerrymander the state legislatures of California, New York, and Illinois as they have done with the three largest and Democratic-leaning county governments in North Carolina.
Despite the state's long-term Democratic trend, Republicans wield more power now than at any point since the 19th century. With the governor unable to veto redistricting, Republicans all but have a lock on the legislature for the foreseeable future. It is truly frightening that in North Carolina we are witnessing a major political party fighting a war on democracy and winning.