Cumberland County is defined by Fort Bragg and the military population that resides there. It also contains the city of Fayetteville, which is the county seat. As of 2010, the population was 319,431, making it one of the most populous counties of North Carolina (the 5th highest). The county is only 51% white, and its minority population has made it an increasingly Democratic bastion.
1988: D+1 (Toss-Up)
1992: R+1 (Toss-Up)
1996: R+4 (Toss-Up)
2000: D+1 (Toss-Up)
2004: R+1 (Toss-Up)
2008: D+11 (Strong Democratic)
2012: D+15 (Solid Democratic)
Forecast: The candidacy of Barack Obama has shifted this once competitive county to one solid for the Democrats. A massive voter registration campaign undertaken by the Obama campaign registered thousands of Democratic voters, many of whom were previously unregistered minorities. Obviously, the military industry is key here. There is evidence that Kerry vastly underperformed in military areas in 2004, making the swing to Obama even more dramatic in 2008. Even in Richard Burr’s vast landslide in 2010, he lost Cumberland by 7 points. It is highly unlikely that Republican candidates will be able to carry this county in the future. It is rather more likely to become even more strongly Democratic, though the ability of the Democrats to carry out an effective voter turnout campaign without the aid of Barack Obama is a question.
The growth rate during the 2000s was only 5.44%, but that slow rate of growth belies several demographic changes within the county. For one thing, whites are shrinking not only as a percentage of the population but in terms of their overall numbers.
Cumberland County often posts some of the most anemic voter turnout numbers in the entire state, thanks to the transience of its military population.
There are perhaps more military-centric nuances to Cumberland County that cannot be picked up upon without a more in-depth analysis of precinct data. Still, the overall message remains that Republicans should be very pessimistic about their future in this populous, military-dominated area. Obama’s ability to best his 2008 performance in this county is a sobering reminder of Republicans’ increasingly bleak future here.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.