A lot was written after 2008 about why North Carolina went blue. This election, national journalists have already focused on the Heath Shuler race as an example of how North Carolina is more Democratic than other states. The story that has been virtually ignored, however, is what's happening at the local level.
Thanks to the folks at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners we can track the proportion of Commissioners who are Democrats from 1974-present. I've plotted the results below and he evidence here is fairly dramatic (and fairly encouraging if you're a Republican). The blue line is the actual proportion of seats held by Democrats per year. The red line is just a trend line to make it easier to interpret. If you find that one confusing, just ignore it.
Democrats are losing on average about 1 percentage point of the commission seats per year. Democrats held 90% of commission seats in 1978 and now the number hovers barely above 50%. This year the Democratic share of Commission seats dropped by about 10 percentage points. If this trend continues, we should see the Republicans holding onto the majority of the County Commission seats very soon.
We'll have more to say about this story in the next few days, but suffice it to say, I think these trends tell us more about North Carolina than the elections at upper-levels that are more influenced by national trends and individual personalities. The conventional wisdom is that North Carolina has moved from light red to purple. I think these data suggest that the story may be the opposite: we're becoming redder by the year.