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What Does The New Decade Mean For Politics?

Trump at the rally in Michigan.
Paul Sancya
In this Dec. 18, 2019, photo, President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich. Trump and his campaign are trying to frame impeachment not as judgment on his conduct but as a culture war referendum on him and his supporters.

2020 is more than a presidential election year — it is also the beginning of a new decade. Does this mean a new era of politics?

Host Anita Rao looks ahead at some of the political trends and questions of the coming year with four analysts from around the state. Michael Bitzer is a professor of politics and history at Catawba College. Deondra Rose is an assistant professor of public policy and political science and the director of research at the Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Susan Roberts is a professor of political science at Davidson College. And Kerry Haynie is a professor of political science and African and African American studies at Duke University.

The roundtable discussion covers the impact of redistricting on the upcoming elections, how impeachment affects the president and the Democratic party and party strategy as the primaries begin. The analysts also look back at the 2010s and share their thoughts on the biggest political trends of the decade.

Interview Highlights

Rose on the significance of redistricting for the 2020 election:

[North Carolina is] going to get even more attention, and we'll wield even more influence over presidential elections. - Deondra Rose

We're going to see with these new maps a congressional delegation that more closely reflects the political divide or division in the state. Again, it's not a perfect reflection, and we're likely to see the state pick up one additional congressional seat after the 2020 census … Given the fact that North Carolina continues to rise in terms of population, we might see that continue even down to the 2030 census. So for me, I think that North Carolina already gets a lot of attention nationally when it comes to what's going on in our state. And with this shift in political representation in the House, we're going to get even more attention, and we'll wield even more influence over presidential elections.

Bitzer on the U.S. airstrike that targeted and killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and its impact on politics in the coming year:

I think the only prediction that I would make is the next 11 months are going to be unpredictable. And I think throwing this issue into the mix certainly is going to raise questions: Okay, what is Iran's next move? And then what potentially could be the American response to the Iranian response? So we are really into uncharted territory … The partisan lenses of both political parties’ bases will see this through their particular ideological partisan perspective. Democrats are going to come out and question why the Gang of Eight were not consulted. They will probably get the briefing today from the administration. But Republicans will say: See, this was President Trump being decisive and forward acting in terms of the attack on the embassy. I think both camps are solidified within their particular perspectives. And that's really going to drive a lot of the discussion — whether it's foreign policy or domestic policy — moving into November.

Haynie on the Democratic strategy in this election cycle:

One of the lessons coming from 2016 for the Democrats is that you can't assume that they'll just show up. The Democratic Party has to get out and mobilize key elements of its base. - Kerry Haynie

One of the lessons coming from 2016 for the Democrats is that you can't assume that they'll just show up. The Democratic Party has to get out and mobilize key elements of its base … The Democrats should be concerned about the lack of diversity, because they have to mobilize and have enthusiasm among African American [and] Latino voters going into November. If these groups are not enthusiastic, there's trouble for the Democratic Party. They need to turn these voters out in high numbers. And they need to worry about … The image of the party given that [in] the top tier candidates, there's no racial diversity.

Roberts on young voters in this election cycle:

We're going to have to transition from talking about the millennials to Generation Z. And these are people that have grown up on their mobile devices, and I think they'll use those in terms of ways to generate activism on campus. I think that this is one of the things that students are concerned about: the process and not necessarily the person. There may be in some college campuses an anti-Trump motivator. But there also are some people that [are] on the other side — the more conservative students — that I think are just as likely to want to find a voice. But I think the process is where we're seeing young people get involved. And that's really fundamental to the democracy.


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Amanda Magnus grew up in Maryland and went to high school in Baltimore. She became interested in radio after an elective course in the NYU journalism department. She got her start at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, but she knew public radio was for her when she interned at WNYC. She later moved to Madison, where she worked at Wisconsin Public Radio for six years. In her time there, she helped create an afternoon drive news magazine show, called Central Time. She also produced several series, including one on Native American life in Wisconsin. She spends her free time running, hiking, and roller skating. She also loves scary movies.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.