When I returned home to North Carolina from the nation’s capital in 1989 and subsequently registered to vote, I opted not to join a political party. Although my conservative views were already well-established — and publicly on display in the syndicated newspaper column I’d created three years earlier — I considered it inappropriate for a journalist to join a partisan team. I was, and remain, unaffiliated.

At the time, North Carolina was an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Since then, the share of voters registering as Democrats has fallen precipitously. The Republican share rose for a while, then leveled off. The ranks of independent voters have, by contrast, kept growing rapidly. As of early March, about 36% of the state’s 7.2 million voters are unaffiliated, with 33% registered as Democrats, 30% as Republicans, and the rest as Libertarians or Greens.

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John Hood is a John Locke Foundation board member.


(2) comments


Correction to previous post: I was looking at a single county for Trey Allen's win. Allen's statewide win was closer to 5 percentage points. Still a big deal in a state where Trump only won by 1 point.


"...the farce of nonpartisan judicial elections."

Glad John Hood cleared this up! Apparently even the libertarian think tanks are done pretending that judges and justices are fair, neutral arbiters of the law. I appreciate the full-throated embrace of conservative "judicial activism."

"Nevertheless, I strongly favor partisan elections. They’re more transparent. They’re more competitive."

The only "transparency" gained is being 100% certain of a candidate's party affiliation. But let's be real. In this political climate, if the candidate has made any public statements whatsoever, I think we know exactly where they stand. As for increased competitiveness, this is a flat out lie. Hood admits as much when he smugly notes that Republicans will consistently blow out Democratic candidates as soon as party affiliation is on the ballot. We saw this with Sam Ervin in 2022. Ervin was an incumbent with a reasonable path to reelection, though it was expected to be a tight race. Once the race became partisan, however, he lost massively by around 13 percentage points. The winner of that race, Trey Allen, doesn't even have any judicial experience. With a law degree and a professed love of Antonin Scalia, the sky's the limit.

So it makes perfect sense when Hood says:

"And with few exceptions, those who strongly advocate nonpartisan elections are partisan actors who think their team benefits by keeping voters in the dark about their favored candidates’ affiliations."

Think about what he is literally saying. He's not afraid of voters being kept in the dark about actual intentions, judicial philosophy, experience, competency, or record of service. Just party affiliation. Nothing but pure tribal partisan voting, no matter candidate quality. What happened to educating voters on the issues and candidates' stances? His whole claim about Mike Morgan's win is that people didn't know enough about either candidate to even make a reasonable guess!

Sure, just look at the "D" or "R" next to someone's name. That's apparently all we need to know. Don't think, don't listen, don't read, don't learn. Hood is a total hack; it's almost unbelievable that he teaches at a university. I'd love to audit one of his courses.

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