The proposed legislative redistricting map for the state Senate would shift much of western Forsyth County, as well as half of the northern precincts, into the district of Democratic Sen. Paul Lowe Jr.
Republican Sen. Joyce Krawiec would gain most of the southernmost precincts in Forsyth, as well as chunks of east Winston-Salem. Redistricting would affect 44 of Forsyth's 101 precincts.
A panel of three state judges on Sept. 3 rejected the maps drawn by state lawmakers, saying legislators took extreme advantage in drawing voting districts to help elect a maximum number of Republican lawmakers. The judges gave lawmakers two weeks to try again. The redrawn maps are subject to the approval of the judges, who could reject the maps if they do not comply with the stated criteria.
The proposed overall Senate redistricting map was posted on the legislative website late Tuesday. The House maps, which would affect five Forsyth districts, have not been made public yet.
"Sen. Lowe and I want to keep municipalities whole as much as possible, and the court order stated that could be a factor in redrawing maps," Krawiec said.
"We do not have any precinct data available, nor are we allowed to consider it. We are directed to consider several factors, one primary factor is compactness scores."
The decision by House Republican leadership to conduct and approve a veto-override vote Wednesday on the state budget without the majority of Democrats on the House floor could have a spillover effect into the redistricting maps.
"This was shockingly bad behavior on the part of the Republicans," said Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi, an economics professor at Winston-Salem State University.
If Democrats are more emboldened now to stick together to oppose any GOP-supported redistricting maps, "it could mean that the court will order the redistributing process for both the 2020 election, and what will happen after the 2020 census will be turned over to an independent commission," Madjd-Sadjadi said.
Lowe, when asked about the proposed redistricting map, said that it "is still in process and discussion; there is nothing more I can say at this time."
The shift has the potential to make Senate District 31 (Krawiec) and Senate District 32 (Lowe) more competitive for 2020, particularly given that all but one of the 20 precincts shifting into Senate District 31 voted Democratic in 2018.
Senate District 32 would retain its core of Winston-Salem, while Senate District 31 would keep portions of Clemmons, all of Kernersville and all of Davie County — all Republican strongholds.
“Those numbers suggest that Senate District 31 could become more competitive," said Mitch Kokai, senior policy analyst with Libertarian think tank John Locke Foundation.
"It’s also a sign that Republicans — Democratic complaints notwithstanding — really did come up with a base map that was not engineered ahead of time to shore up Republican incumbents’ advantages."
In 2018, both Krawiec and Lowe won their districts by lopsided margins: Krawiec won by a 58% to 42% margin over Democratic challenger John Motsinger Jr., while Lowe won by a 72.9% to 27.1% margin over Republican challenger Eric Henderson.
Recent election history suggests both incumbents would be favored in their potential new districts, although by narrower margins.
In the 2014 U.S. Senate contest between former Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and current Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, Krawiec's proposed new district gave Tillis a 53% to 43% victory over Hagan.
In the district proposed for Lowe, Hagan beat Tillis 53% to 44%.
Of the 20 precincts that would shift from Lowe's district to Krawiec's, only one precinct, No. 43, was won by the Republican. Those precincts voted for Lowe by an average of 69% to 31% and represented almost 40% of Lowe's total vote.