Nestled between the Piedmont Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains in the Foothills region of North Carolina, Alexander County is your typical small, farm-based county in the western part of the state. With a population of 38,452 as of mid-2017, Alexander County contains no substantial population centers, although it has posted a sizeable 10.6% growth rate between 2000 and 2010.
Alexander County is part of the Unifour, a four-county area in the Foothills coterminous with the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area. Although Alexander only contains one municipality – the county seat, Taylorsville – it also contains several unincorporated towns including Bethlehem, Stony Point, and Hiddenite, the latter of which is home to a prominent mine for sapphires, emeralds, and other precious stones. The county’s defining geographic feature is a section of the Brushy Mountains, a spur of the Blue Ridge Mountains dividing the Yadkin and Catawba rivers.
Politically, Alexander County is one of the most strongly Republican areas of the state, characteristic of its rural, heavily white population. 88% of the county’s residents are white – the second-highest proportion in the Piedmont – and Alexander has the fifth-lowest population of any Piedmont county. Like other counties in the Foothills region, Alexander has trended significantly towards the GOP in recent decades. It last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1976 (Carter vs. Ford), and it chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by over fifty points. Moreover, the county voted for every Republican statewide candidate in the last decade, and its county commission is entirely Republican as of 2018.
1992 Presidential PVI: R+20 (Safe R)
1996 Presidential PVI: R+32 (Safe R)
2000 Presidential PVI: R+38 (Safe R)
2004 Presidential PVI: R+37 (Safe R)
2008 Presidential PVI: R+45 (Safe R)
2012 Presidential PVI: R+48 (Safe R)
2016 Presidential PVI: R+58 (Safe R)
Donald Trump – 76.04%
Hillary Clinton – 20.62%
Richard Burr – 73.34%
Deborah Ross – 21.53%
Pat McCrory – 72.46%
Roy Cooper – 25.42%
As shown by the above maps, Alexander’s rural nature leaves no part of the county with significant Democratic support – all precincts in the county voted for Trump, Burr, and McCrory in 2016, as well as GOP Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (CD-05), state Representative Lee Zachary (HD-73), and state Senator Andy Wells (SD-42). Looking into the future, Alexander County is certain to maintain its strong Republican record, if not become even more Republican than it is today. Although the county’s small population likely precludes it from having a significant impact upon statewide elections, it does contribute strongly to GOP support in the Foothills region, so Alexander will continue to be a boon to local Republicans well into the future.
To access the 2013 version of this profile written by John Wynne, please click here.