News: CJ Exclusives

The balance of power in N.C. politics since Reconstruction

CJ file photo
CJ file photo

From the end of the Civil War through much of the 20th century, North Carolina effectively was a one-party state: Democratic.

Democrats held control of the executive branch from 1901-1973. Republican Jim Holshouser interrupted the Democratic streak for four years and then the other Jims, Democrat Hunt and Republican Martin, resided in the Executive Mansion for the next quarter century. Hunt won two-term tenures from 1977-84 and 1993-2000. Martin served the eight years in between Hunt’s terms.

Since Mike Easley was elected in 2000, Democrats have continued their streak as governors for all but one term, Pat McCrory’s, from 2013-16.

CJ graphic by Greg DeDeugd; Text by Julie Havlak

But the legislative branch has been another story. Democrats had a hammerlock on the General Assembly for more than a century. At times, only a handful of Republicans held legislative seats in a given session.

That ended in 2010, when the GOP took control of both the House and Senate in districts drawn to favor Democrats. After redrawing legislative districts to their favor with 2010 census data, Republicans maintained and sometimes expanded their majorities through the decade.

This past November, running under districts drawn by court order to favor Democrats, Republicans kept their streak of legislative control alive for the 2021 General Assembly, picking up four House seats to have a 69-51 advantage in that body while losing one Senate seat but still having a 28-22 lead.

The above timeline offers a look at the state’s electoral history since the end of the Civil War. Click here for a larger image.