Richmond County is located in south-central North Carolina in the Sandhills region, on the South Carolina border. The county seat is Rockingham. The population in 2010 was 46,639.
The county seat of Rockingham is known for being the location of the Rockingham Speedway, affectionately known as “The Rock” to NASCAR fans. Richmond was formerly a major textile-producing county, and also gained fame for being a railroad hub. The Sandhills Gamelands is a 60,000-acre conservation area which provides many opportunities for outdoor adventures, including hunting and fishing.
Politically, Richmond County is strongly Democratic at the local and legislative level, but Republicans have come close in presidential races. A large black population and a high number of Yellow Dog Democrats makes Richmond tough territory for Republicans, but these Yellow Dogs were not fans of Barack Obama and their lack of support for his candidacy almost brought Richmond into the Republican fold in 2008 and 2012. Pat McCrory, however, was able to win the county in 2012, thanks to the Charlotte media market which covers the area.
1988: D+24 (Solid Democratic)
1992: D+25 (Solid Democratic)
1996: D+20 (Solid Democratic)
2000: D+12 (Strong Democratic)
2004: D+7 (Leans Democratic)
2008: R+6 (Leans Republican)
2012: R+1 (Toss-Up)
Forecast: Richmond is 60% white, therefore Democrats must do somewhat well among this demographic group in order to win. So far, they have been successful. Despite opposition among old-school Dixiecrats to Barack Obama’s candidacy, Richmond still went Democratic in both 2008 and 2012. A candidate like Hillary Clinton would do much better here among white voters. In other words, Republicans’ best chance to win the county at the presidential level has probably already passed.
But even if a Democrat tanks even further with white voters, it’s not likely to matter. In Richmond, whites are decreasing as a share of the population. In 2000 whites were 65% of the population, now they are about 60%. Increased registration among black voters has also been more than enough to counter the increasingly Republican tendencies of Richmond whites. Look for Richmond to stay Democratic at all levels of government.
Prominent politicians from the county include Wayne Goodwin, current Commissioner of Insurance and a former state legislator who represented the area while in the General Assembly.