North Carolina’s 11th District covers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Tucked amidst the convergence of the Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina borders, it incorporates numerous national and state parks, including the rolling hills and foggy vistas of the Blue Ridge and Great Smokey Mountains.
The main metropolitan center is Asheville, while the rest of the district is largely rural, and populated by white, blue-collar workers. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians resides on a federal reservation in Cherokee, though they comprise a tiny portion of the voting electorate. Agriculture and forestry, long the area’s mainstay industries, are slowly giving way to new ventures. Retail trade, health care, and education are becoming major employers in the region. With such awe-inspiring scenery, tourism plays a key economic role, with visitors taking advantage of the ski slopes in the winter and the hiking trails and campgrounds throughout the rest of the year.
The district leans conservative—yet registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 20,000.
The incumbent congressman, Republican Charles Taylor, first won the 11th District seat in 1990, and has subsequently won reelection 8 times, by an average margin of 57%. Facing a primary opponent for the first time since 1990, Taylor cruised to an easy victory last week and will be the Republican nominee.