HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina isn’t quite like other states. And neither are its voters.

About three decades ago, as country music began to blend its sound with pop music, it got the nickname, “countrypolitan.” Now, political scientists are using that term to describe North Carolina voters who aren’t really urban nor are they completely rural.

“There are 28, what we call, ‘Countrypolitan’ counties,” said Mac McCorkle. 

The federal government, however, designates counties by “rural” or “urban,” so McCorkle and his Duke colleague Rachel Salzberg thought a more nuanced description was needed and came up with “countrypolitan.”

Those countrypolitan counties include:

  • Anson County
  • Brunswick County
  • Cabarrus County
  • Camden County
  • Chatham County
  • Currituck County
  • Davidson County
  • Davie County
  • Franklin County
  • Gaston County
  • Gates County
  • Granville County
  • Harnett County
  • Haywood County
  • Henderson County
  • Hoke County
  • Iredell County
  • Johnston County
  • Lincoln County
  • Madison County
  • Pender County
  • Person County
  • Rockingham County
  • Randolph County
  • Rowan County
  • Stokes County
  • Union County
  • Yadkin County

“They’re right next door to the big city counties which are big, Democratic strongholds now. And they’re metropolitan because of community and jobs and people, connections, but they still retain a lot of rural and smalltown legacies,” McCorkle said.

In congressional and state races, the phenomenon can be troubling for Democratic candidates.

“The Democratic vote is way too concentrated in the urban areas and the university towns. We call it the ‘Two U Coalition’: the urban and the university.”

See how the Countrypolitan counties put President Trump over the top in winning North Carolina in 2020 in this edition of the Buckley Report.