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Watauga County in National Press for Presidential Election Bellwether Status

Compiled by Jesse Wood

Throughout this election cycle, Watauga County has made the national news because it’s considered a bellwether county. Here are just a few related stories to peruse until the polls close and votes are counted.

Below are excerpts and links to the full postings.

AP: These 10 Counties Could Determine the Presidential Election


“This is one of the few nearly all-white counties in the country that split on Obama’s two elections. He won by 4 percentage points in 2008, but his vote totals slipped 13% in 2012, resulting in a 3-point loss.

Appalachian State University in Boone anchors the population, which is more educated than the broader North Carolina electorate and includes thousands of students—key Clinton targets. Beyond campus, Watauga has lower income averages and a higher poverty rate, offering Trump an opening.”

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NPR: The 13 Bellwether Counties That Could Decide The Election

  1. North Carolina (15 electoral votes) – Toss-up

Bellwether: Watauga

“In the western mountains on the border with Tennessee, it’s home to Boone, which includes Appalachian State. Watauga has gone for the winner statewide in each of the last three presidential elections and three Senate races since 2008. It went for Romney in 2012 (when he won it), but Obama in 2008 (when the Democrat did). If Clinton’s winning there, it means she’s hitting marks with young voters. With demographic change in the Research Triangle area, though, it’s possible for Clinton to win without this smaller county.”

Statewide results: 2012: Romney 51%-49% – 2008: Obama 50%-49%

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Governing: 50 Battleground Counties to Watch in 2016 Presidential Race

“Far smaller in population than Wake and Mecklenburg — with only 45,000-odd registered voters — is Watauga County in the western part of the state. It’s rural and mountainous but also home to a university — Appalachian State — and the high-end tourist community of Blowing Rock, making it a microcosm of the state’s urban-rural and young-old divides. It’s one of just four counties in the state with more unaffiliated voters than either Republicans or Democrats, and it has been a hotbed of controversy over election rules.”

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