Making a better future for the next generation in North Carolina.

Michigan vs. North Carolina — Experiments in Partisan Control

by | Jan 4, 2023 | Government, Political Parties, Politics | 0 comments

It’s Michigan vs. North Carolina again — but this time it’s not basketball. These two states are embarking on partisan experiments in governing for the next generation. In the 2022 election, Michigan voters gave control of all branches of their government to Democrats. North Carolina gave near-control of their government to Republicans. What happens next?

The 2022 election results should be a test of which party’s program – in similar states — can deliver the best policy for their next generation to thrive as children in the near term and live a good life as adults in the 2040s.

From 2018 to 2022, Michigan and North Carolina voters split control of their state governments between Democratic governors and Republican-majority legislatures. It took the agreement of both parties to change laws. Splitting government control was one of the key similarities I noticed between these states. After the 2022 election, things are changing…

What Happened In the Elections?

Led by the successful election campaign of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer facing a weak opponent – and with voter enthusiasm for ballot initiatives and citizen-led redistricting – Democrats won control of both chambers of the Michigan Legislature for the first time since 1984, and solidified their control of the state’s Supreme Court.

In contrast, North Carolina Republicans preserved their control of a U.S. Senate seat in the year’s top race, flipped control of the state’s Supreme Court to a Republican majority, and almost achieved a “supermajority” in the state’s General Assembly (legislature).

In the 2023-2024 legislative session, North Carolina Republicans will only need one Democratic House member to side with them, or be absent during key votes to override vetoes of Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. When Republicans previously held a supermajority in the 2017-2018 session, they were able to override 23 of Cooper’s 28 vetoes.

How Will the Parties Use Their Newfound Power?

Will Michigan Democrats go on a spending spree, building up debts for the next generation? Will they take away everyone’s guns and defund the police so families have to fear for their safety? Will they impose a twisted version of American history on schools so the next generation grows up despising their country? Or impose job-killing regulations on business, throwing parents into unemployment and despair?

Will North Carolina Republicans gerrymander their way to permanent majorities leading to cynicism and apathy in the next generation? Will they give tax breaks to business and the rich while starving social services and worsening child poverty?  Will they ease up on environmental regulation leaving a legacy of pollution for the next generation to clean up?

These are caricatures (I hope) of how the parties would act if they had their druthers. Time will tell how responsibly the parties use their new powers. Interviews with political leaders in both states generally include statements about working with the other party where they can find common ground, but holding firm on some key issues where they disagree. North Carolina Governor Cooper’s year-end interview is a good example.

Michigan and North Carolina are not alone in giving control to one party. Only 10 states have shared power between the parties, the lowest number since 1952. I will be watching and reporting on how this natural experiment unfolds right here on St. In the meantime, party leaders have given us clues about their intentions:

The Democratic Agenda for Michigan

The Republican Agenda for North Carolina

Next Up: How Are North Carolina and Michigan Working to Create the Best Economy for the Next Generation?

In many ways, the economies of these states have arrived at the same place – half a billion dollars in annual turnover, with median incomes in the mid-$50,000 range. Michigan is more oriented towards manufacturing, North Carolina towards tech. Neither state is a factor in the burgeoning creative economy of the future. Both states are aware of their shortcomings in fostering the highly educated workforce of the future. What’s next?




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