North Carolina is important in national politics, yet a handful of state senators what to consign us to political backwater status by making us junior partners to larger states such as California and ignoring the will of North Carolina voters in the next presidential election.
State senators Wiley Nickel (D-Wake), Jay J. Chaudhuri (D-Wake), and Joyce Waddell (D-Mecklenburg) are the primary sponsors of a S104, a bill that would tie North Carolina to a national popular vote interstate compact. The compact requires all member states to cast their electoral college votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote, regardless of the popular voter in their states.
North Carolina is one of a dozen or so swing states, states that are up for grabs in presidential elections. That means candidates from both major parties must campaign here and pay at least some attention to our priorities. According to the National Journal candidate tracker, presidential and vice-presidential candidates visited North Carolina 48 times between September 1 and election day in 2016. We received more visits than did any other state during that period, including perennial swing states like Florida (45 visits) and Ohio (33).
If the national popular vote interstate compact goes into effect, rather than paying attention to swing states like North Carolina, candidates will focus their attention on the largest media markets. And where are the twelve largest media markets?
- New York, NY
- Los Angeles, CA
- Chicago, IL
- Philadelphia, PA
- Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
- Washington (Hagerstown), DC-MD
- Houston, TX
- San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA
- Atlanta, GA
- Boston (Manchester), MA-NH
- Phoenix-Prescott, AZ
- Seattle-Tacoma, WA
My geography might be a bit hazy, but I do not recall any of those markets being in North Carolina. In fact, you must go all the way down to the twenty-third position to find anything in the Old North State.
To make matters worse, the compact would commit North Carolina’s electoral college votes to follow voting patterns from outside our state regardless of how North Carolinians voted. Had North Carolina been a member of an active national popular vote interstate compact in 2016, our 15 electoral college votes would have gone to Hilary Clinton even though Donald Trump won here by 173,315 votes.
So, senators Nickel, Chaudhuri, and Waddell are pushing legislation that would make North Carolina politically subservient to states with larger media markets and make the wishes of North Carolina voters subservient to those of voters from other states. Our votes are ours and those senators are wrong to try to make our votes irrelevant.