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GOP Advantage Built Into New Congressional Boundaries

As expected, the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature has drawn new lines for the state's Congressional districts that strongly favor the GOP. Democrats could lose two - and possibly four - Congressional seats they currently hold. The political party in charge always draws the district lines in its favor, so these proposed boundaries are no surprise. What does impress non-partisan political analyst John Davis is how far into the future Republicans are looking as they draw the maps. "They drew the districts based on the population forecast for the next 10 years and how the state is growing, so that by the end of the decade these districts will still be safe or safer for Republicans," says Davis. North Carolina currently has seven Democrats and six Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. The new district boundaries still give Democrats a strong hold on three of those seats, including Charlotte Congressman Mel Watt. But District 8 - which has bounced between parties over the years and is currently held by second-term Democrat Larry Kissell - would become much harder for Democrats to win, says Davis. "They took some very, very safe precincts out of Mecklenburg County and they put in some of the most Republican precincts in the state from Randolph County, from Davidson County and from Rowan County," says Davis. "You can see why that is very likely a Republican district for the rest of this decade." Davis says the Democrat Party's hold on Districts 11 and 13 - represented by Heath Shuler and Brad Miller - is also in jeopardy with the newly-redrawn district boundaries. Democrat Mike McIntyre in District 7 down east would lose just enough Democrat voters to make his re-election tough, but do-able. Meanwhile, strongly Republican districts in the Charlotte area represented by Sue Myrick and Patrick McHenry stay that way. Republicans will hold a statewide public hearing on the proposed district boundaries this Thursday from 3 to 9 p.m. Charlotte-area residents can join by video conference at UNC Charlotte's Atkins Library. If approved by the courts and the federal government, the new boundaries could take effect in time for the 2012 election.