Located in the Inner Banks region south of the Albemarle Sound, Tyrrell County is notable for being the smallest county in North Carolina. In the 2010 census, Tyrrell County had 4,407 residents. A wet, swampy environment helped contribute to this scarcity of habitation. The county seat is Columbia.
Once a Democratic stronghold, Tyrrell now supports Republicans at the presidential level. The county continued to trend Republican in 2012.
1988: D+17 (Solid Democratic)
1992: D+16 (Solid Democratic)
1996: D+20 (Solid Democratic)
2000: D+9 (Leans Democratic)
2004: R+5 (Leans Republican)
2008: R+8 (Leans Republican)
2012: R+9 (Leans Republican)
Forecast: Tyrrell’s sparse population and overwhelmingly rural character helped make it a Democratic stronghold. The Republican realignment hit Tyrrell County relatively late. Even in 1996, the county was trending Democrat while most rural counties in North Carolina were trending strongly Republican. But in 2000, George W. Bush carried the county over Al Gore, and Tyrrell has been voting for Republicans for President ever since. Barack Obama came close to winning here in 2008, but lost by 1.41%, or 27 votes. Tyrrell was not as close in 2012, giving Mitt Romney a 5-point margin.
Overall, things in Tyrrell County are very stable. The growth rate during the 2000s was 6.22%, with nearly equal growth rates in the black and white population. Whites in Tyrrell County used to be swing voters, but now are fairly reliably Republican, at least at the federal level. Democrats still do strong here at the legislative and local level. It is a toss-up as far as the 2014 Senate race goes.
Needless to say, presidential candidates aren’t going to be making campaign swings through Tyrrell County anytime soon. The county’s tiny population renders it almost insignificant as far as politics is concerned. Indeed, Tyrrell is so small that many precincts in the state wield more population – and therefore more voting power.