Pitt County is a large county located in eastern North Carolina. It contains the city of Greenville and is also the site of East Carolina University. Thanks to its health care community and educated populace, the county has boomed in population since 1990.
Though George W. Bush carried Pitt County during his presidential runs in 2000 and 2004, Barack Obama carried it in both 2008 and 2012. The combination of a highly-educated population and a significant black minority helped carry Obama to victory in both years.
1988: R+3 (Toss-Up)
1992: R+3 (Toss-Up)
1996: R+10 (Strong Republican)
2000: R+8 (Leans Republican)
2004: R+4 (Toss-Up)
2008: D+2 (Toss-Up)
2012: D+3 (Toss-Up)
Prognosis: Pitt County was modestly Republican at the presidential election, then became strongly Republican as a reaction to President Clinton’s anti-tobacco policies. Inmigration has steadily made the county more favorable to Democrats since then.
The growth rate from 2000 to 2010 was a very healthy 25.67%. This population boom has likely helped Democrats. The black population is growing at a faster rate than the white population, and the Hispanic population almost doubled. Again, these are all factors helping Democrats. The growth rate, however, has declined significantly in recent years.
Pitt County is becoming less “eastern” and more of a modern, metropolitan county – but it’s not there yet. Still, Republicans’ days of carrying Pitt may be numbered. Richard Burr only won the county by 3% during his landslide 2010 election victory. The Republicans’ problems in Pitt mirror their problems in the rest of the country. Doing better with moderate suburbanites would go a long way toward increasing their chances of winning the county. Democrats, on the other hand, need to keep black voters engaged, reach out and register as many Hispanics as possible, and continue their success with the very well educated.
Trivia: The town of Farmville is located in Pitt County and is the residence of U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC).