JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Over the last 20 years, the percentage of people in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee who voted for Republican presidential candidates has increased by double digits in every area county, according to election data from both states.
The largest increases have come in the Southwest Virginia counties of Buchanan (36% increase), Wise (34% increase), Lee (32% increase), Russell (31% increase), Dickenson (28% increase) and Scott (22% increase). In Tennessee, Hawkins (19% increase), Greene (17% increase) and Sullivan (16% increase) counties have experienced the largest increases.
In the 2012 November General Election, Mitt Romney collected roughly 71% of the total local vote. In that election, only four out of the more than 300 area precincts voted for President Barack Obama in his successful reelection bid, according to election data. Three of those precincts are in Johnson City: North Side, South Side and Millennium Park. The now merged Andrew Johnson precinct in Greene County also voted majority Democrat in 2012.
East Tennessee State University Political Science Associate Professor Dr. David Briley says Northeast Tennessee has deep Republican roots. He doesn’t expect the trend to change this election.
“When there were almost no Republicans in the south, say less than 25% for 100 years, you could find a majority of them hear,” he said. “Northeast Tennessee has always been Republican.”
Dr. Briley says since President Dwight Eisenhower won Tennessee in the 1950s, Tennessee as a whole has voted for the winning candidate in every election up until 2008. The last time Tennesseans supported a Democrat came in 1992 and 1996 when President Bill Clinton won alongside Tennessean Vice President Al Gore.
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