Jones County is located in the Inner Banks region of North Carolina. It is lightly populous and very rural. The county seat is Trenton. It was named after Willie (pronounced Wiley) Jones, one of the architects of the anti-Federalist movement that opposed the ratification of the Constitution.
For a long time Jones was one of the most reliably Democratic counties in the state. In 1984 it supported Ronald Reagan over Walter Mondale by only 37 votes and was won by Michael Dukakis in 1988. Since 2000 though, it has consistently supported Republicans at the presidential level and increasingly supports Republican candidates at the state level.
1988: D+15 (Solid Democratic)
1992: D+8 (Leans Democratic)
1996: R+4 (Toss-Up)
2000: R+7 (Leans Republican)
2004: R+13 (Strong Republican)
2008: R+16 (Solid Republican)
2012: R+13 (Strong Republican)
Forecast: Jones is an example of an inelastic county. Seeing as how the county was once solidly Democratic, there was once a large minority of whites who would cast votes for Democratic candidates. But those white voters now vote exclusively Republican. With this degree of racial polarization, the most important information for the course of the county is its demographic composition. Jones actually lost population from 2000 to 2010, resulting in a -2.2% growth rate. But the black population is declining at a rate of about 12%, while the white population is growing slightly. This is good for Republicans. Democrats cannot pin their hopes on Hispanics, which is growing at a rate of 41%. This is actually not impressive for a predominantly agricultural county in eastern North Carolina. The county actually trended Democratic in 2012, but this was due to heavy black turnout which is unlikely to be replicated in 2016. While a more conservative Democrat may do better with white voters, their chances of carrying the county are miniscule. However, its small population renders it of only trivial importance to North Carolina politics.
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.