Currituck County is one of the “finger counties” located north of the Albemarle Sound. A coastal county, Currituck is also situated on the Atlantic Ocean. Its name comes from the Indian word for “land of the wild geese”. The county seat is also Currituck. As of 2010, the population was 23,547. In recent years, the county has boomed in population, though growth has slowed somewhat with the onset of the late 2000s recession.
Perhaps the most interesting about Currituck County, at least in political terms, is that 38% of registered voters identify as unaffiliated, higher than any other North Carolina county. This is not to say that Currituck is any sort of swing county. Since 1984, it has voted Republican in presidential elections, and in most federal elections.
The large number of independent voters is part of a broader trend affecting coastal areas of the state. Newcomers here tend to be upscale, older, and white – a demographic which heavily favors Republicans. But for whatever reason, a large number of these voters do not register as Republicans, even though they are quite partisan in their political preferences. In 2012, Mitt Romney carried Currituck County with almost two-thirds of the vote. Next to unaffiliateds, Republicans have the largest share of registrants, with Democrats in last place.
A different type of voter is dominant here than in former days. In 1968, Currituck was the county where George Wallace found his highest share of support.
1988: R+14 (Strong Republican)
1992: R+10 (Strong Republican)
1996: R+14 (Strong Republican)
2000: R+22 (Solid Republican)
2004: R+32 (Solid Republican)
2008: R+38 (Solid Republican)
2012: R+38 (Solid Republican)
Forecast: For an eastern North Carolina county, Currituck has always been overwhelmingly white. Once Democrats lost the support of white Southerners, their days of winning here were over. Although many of the newest voters here are not from the South, they are only slightly more likely to support Democratic candidates, and more likely than natives to support fiscally conservative policies.
The long-term trend for Democrats here is quite poor. Currituck County voters support Republicans up and down the ballot, and a continued influx of upscale white voters will likely enhance their margins of victory down the road. The county grew by 29.45% during the last decade. During that same decade, Currituck shifted 16 points to the right. The Republican trend in the coastal counties is almost never mentioned in reports on NC politics, but this is because the growing Democratic advantage in urban areas is far more consequential in the long term.
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.