Franklin County is located northeast of Raleigh. Despite a population boom in the past decade, the county has maintained its rural character. The county seat is Louisburg. As of 2012 the population for the county is estimated to be 61,475.
Though still a small county in terms of population, just 20 years ago Franklin was even smaller. This is one county where demographic change has helped Republicans. The African American population has not been growing in proportion to other racial groups. In 1990 blacks constituted 35% of the population, in 2010 it was 26%. The White population has stayed constant – about 64%. Thus it can be said that blacks have been replaced in the population by Hispanics, who are less reliable voters for Democrats.
1988: D+7 (Leans Democratic)
1992: D+8 (Leans Democratic)
1996: R+1 (Toss-Up)
2000: R+7 (Leans Republican)
2004: R+8 (Leans Republican)
2008: R+8 (Leans Republican)
2012: R+8 (Leans Republican)
Forecast: In 1988, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts came within a razor’s edge of carrying the county, despite being defeated in a landslide nationally. Franklin County voted for Bill Clinton twice, but his margin in 1996 was greatly diminished because of his administration’s anti-tobacco policies. With the increased liberalization of the national Democrats, Franklin began going for Republican candidates, starting in 2000 with George W. Bush. Despite a high rate of growth and increased registration on the part of the county’s black voters, Franklin’s political leanings have hardly changed. An inelastic county, Democrats have a high floor of support and a low ceiling; they can win here with a right candidate in the right environment. The growth rate during the 2000s was 28.27%, but the growth rate has drastically slowed in the aftermath of the recession; a predicted double-digit growth rate for the 2010s decade is optimistic.
Republicans are favored here in presidential contests, but Barack Obama came within 4 points of winning last year. Hillary Clinton would be a strong contender to bring Franklin back into the Democratic fold. While Republicans are favored in federal races, Democrats are still strong here locally; they maintain control of the County Commission.
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.