This article is the first in a series of profiles analyzing the electoral history and political geography of each of North Carolina’s one hundred counties. An earlier version of this series, created by John Wynne in 2013, is also available on the Politics NC blog.
Located in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina, Alamance County is situated directly between the state’s Triangle and Triad metropolitan areas. Daily commuters to surrounding urban areas and families who have moved from them contribute to the county’s large population – Alamance boasts 161,076 residents as of mid-2017, and it experienced a high 15.5% growth rate from 2000 to 2010.
The largest city in Alamance County is centrally-located Burlington, although the county seat is nearby Graham. Other municipalities in the county include Mebane and Elon – home to the private, well-established Elon University. Although many of the county’s residents are commuters to the Triangle or the Triad, the county is also home to prominent textile and agriculture industries that have been present since Alamance broke off from the neighboring Orange County in 1849.
Running through Alamance County is the Haw River, for which a nearby town in the county was named. The town of Haw River, although small, was once home to former Governor Thomas Holt, former Governor and United States Senator W. Kerr Scott, and the latter’s son, former Governor Robert Scott. Also from Alamance County were former United States Senator B. Everett Jordan of Saxapahaw and former state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps of Mebane, the daughter of Robert Scott.
Politically, Alamance County is far to the right of its neighbors, boasting a solid Republican voting record in contrast to the Democratic strength of the Triangle and the Triad. Along with most white Southern counties, Alamance last supported a Democrat for President with Jimmy Carter in 1976, and has since generally maintained support for both federal and statewide Republicans.
1992 Presidential PVI: R+18 (Safe R)
1996 Presidential PVI: R+24 (Safe R)
2000 Presidential PVI: R+26 (Safe R)
2004 Presidential PVI: R+21 (Safe R)
2008 Presidential PVI: R+16 (Safe R)
2012 Presidential PVI: R+18 (Safe R)
2016 Presidential PVI: R+15 (Safe R)
In 2016, Alamance continued its strong Republican record, voting for Donald Trump, Richard Burr, and Pat McCrory, as well as all Republican candidates for the Council of State offices. It has also maintained high levels of support for Republican Congressman Mark Walker (CD-06), as well as its all-GOP delegation to the General Assembly – Representative Stephen Ross (HD-63), Representative Dennis Riddell (HD-64), and Senator Rick Gunn (SD-24).
Donald Trump (R) – 54.55%
Hillary Clinton (D) – 41.93%
Richard Burr (R) – 55.76%
Deborah Ross (D) – 40.88%
Pat McCrory (R) – 52.96%
Roy Cooper (D) – 45.23%
Within Alamance County, Republicans find strong support in the rural areas below Burlington, as well as in suburban and exurban areas around Burlington and Graham. Democratic voters are found mostly within the city limits of Burlington and Graham, as well as in Mebane on the border with Orange County. High population growth in the Burlington area – especially among Hispanic residents – indicate that the county will likely trend Democratic in future elections, though it should not be expected to vote for Democrats any time in the near future. Along with most quickly-growing areas in the central Piedmont, Alamance County was among the North Carolina counties where Hillary Clinton’s 2016 showing outperformed that of Barack Obama in 2012.
On a local level, Alamance is also heavily Republican, with four Republicans and one Democrat serving on the County Commission as of 2018. However, Burlington Mayor Ian Baltutis – a 32-year-old Democrat and Elon University alumnus – is viewed by some as a potential rising star within the Democratic Party. Alamance County will likely stay safely Republican for some time, although current trends do suggest a potentially competitive political future for the county.
To access the 2013 version of this profile written by John Wynne, please click here.