Located in coastal North Carolina, Hyde County is one of the smallest in the state in terms of population. The county seat is Swan Quarter, but perhaps its most famous community is Ocracoke, located on Ocracoke Island, the site of Blackbeard’s death.
While Ocracoke Island has its own culture, inland Hyde County is more reflective of the black-white dichotomy found throughout eastern North Carolina. With this in mind, one would expect Hyde’s 64% white population to carry the day for Republicans. But this is not the case; the island of Ocracoke contains some very liberal whites (and a sizable gay community). Therefore, elections in Hyde County resemble those statewide: when enough white liberals and moderates combine forces with African Americans, electoral victory can be achieved against white, rural conservatives. This makes Hyde County a bellwether even though it has a population of less than 6,000 souls. In 2008, Barack Obama carried Hyde County and the state, in 2012 this result was reversed.
1988: D+23 (Solid Democratic)
1992: D+15 (Solid Democratic)
1996: D+8 (Leans Democratic)
2000: R+2 (Toss-Up)
2004: R+5 (Leans Republican)
2008: R+6 (Leans Republican)
2012: R+5 (Leans Republican)
Forecast: Hyde County lost residents from 2000 to 2010, one of the few counties to do so. The growth rate was -0.27%. The black population is declining the fastest. Should this trend continue, then Hyde’s longtime relationship with the Democratic Party might be over. The good news is that the party’s bleeding with white, rural conservatives has probably ended, there are simply few ways it can drop even further. Though Republicans will be favored here in 2016 against most any candidate, Hillary Clinton would do strongly 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.