Mitchell County

About

For this week’s county highlight, we’re referencing our latest analysis on the drop-off in Republican primary votes in the 2016 and 2020 primaries. In 2016, Mitchell County experienced more drop-off than any other county at 42%. Here’s what else to know about Mitchell:

Located on the border of Tennessee, Mitchell County was formed in 1861 from Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Watauga, and Yancey counties. The county gets its name from Elisha Mitchell, the UNC professor who died while exploring what is now known as Mount Mitchell in neighboring Yancey County. The small town of Bakersville is the county seat and has been referred to as the “gateway to Roan Mountain.”

The largest town in the county is Spruce Pine, which was established around a tavern, the English Inn. The Inn remains one of the oldest log structures in the state. Spruce Pine is known for its abundance of minerals and gems and has been called the “mineral city of the world.” Since the 1950s, Spruce Pine has hosted the annual NC Mineral and Gem Festival, attracting dealers from around the country eager to showcase their gems, jewelry, and minerals.

While more than 50 types of minerals have been discovered in the county, mica, feldspar, and quartz are predominant. A byproduct of the mining process, “spruce pine sand” (which is actually quartz) has filled the bunkers at Augusta National Golf Course, the home of the Masters Tournament, for more than 40 years.

Mitchell County is also known for its vibrant arts scene. Located in Penland, the Penland School of Craft is one of the nation’s oldest handiwork schools. Founded in 1929 by Lucy Morgan, the school offers workshops, artist residencies, galleries, and community programs on its 420-acre campus. Approximately 1,400 people attend workshops and classes annually.

A Republican stronghold, Mitchell County has never supported a Democratic candidate for president. On average, GOP candidates have carried the county by a 50-point margin and there is no sign of Republican support dwindling in the future. In both 2016 and 2020, Donald Trump won Mitchell by nearly 58%. Ted Budd also won the county by the same margin in the 2022 US Senate election.

Geography

Elected Officials

County Data