Thursday, October 06, 2016

N.C., 2nd in nation in number of rural people, is one of the biggest presidential battlegrounds

North Carolina, which has more people living in rural areas than any state but Texas, has become one of the biggest battleground states in the presidential election. The state had 3,233,727 rural residents in the 2010 census, 34 percent of the state's population. Mitt Romney narrowly beat President Obama in 2012 in North Carolina, 50.39 percent to 48.45 percent, while Obama slipped past Sen. John McCain in 2008, 49.7 percent to 49.38 percent.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now locked in a tight battle for the state. Elon University has Clinton leading Trump 45 percent to 39 percent; a Bloomberg poll has Clinton leading 46-45; a Quinnipiac University survey gave Clinton a 3-point lead; WRAL-TV in Raleigh has Clinton up 2 points; and the Real Clear Politics polling average has her leading by 1.3, Tim Marcin reports for International Business News. (North Carolina Rural Center map: County classification)
Clinton, who has already headlined four events in North Carolina since Sept. 1, has spent more than $22 million on advertisement in the state since Aug. 1, Valerie Bauerlein and Laura Meckler report for The Wall Street Journal. Before 2008, Democrats hadn’t won a presidential contest in North Carolina since 1976, but the state is growing, largely in urban areas, which favors Clinton and Democrats. North Carolina grew 5.3 percent from 2000 to 2015, ahead of the national rate of 4.1 percent, says the Census Bureau. The state also has a large transplant population, with about half of its registered voters having moved there from another state.

Another issue is the state's controversial bathroom law, which requires people to use bathrooms and changing rooms in government buildings and schools that correspond with the sex on their birth certificates. The law has led to boycotts and cost the state major sporting events, concerts and tourism dollars. The law is most favored by Republicans and rural residents.

Two other battleground states rank right after North Carolina in number of rural residents. Pennsylvania is third (2.7 million, 21 percent) and Ohio fourth (2.6 million, 22 percent). Perhaps having a big rural population helps you be a battleground state. For a spreadsheet of states with categories of rural and urban population and territory, click here.

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