Chaffee County, Colorado, and Lenoir County, North Carolina, don’t attract much attention in national politics because they’re not big population centers. Yet Chaffee, located about 130 miles southwest of Denver, and Lenoir, which takes in Kinston and other territory in eastern North Carolina, are two of the most politically divided counties in the nation.
Chaffee and Lenoir were among the 10 counties in the nation with the closest votes in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, according to data compiled by Political Capital from the more than 3,100 counties and their equivalents.
Following are the 10 counties with the smallest margin of victory between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012. Because counties vary in population and votes, the closest counties are ranked by the winner’s percentage-point victory margin rather than the raw-vote margin.
1. Pike, Ohio (Romney by 0.01 percentage points and 1 vote): Located in the Appalachian region of the state about 70 miles south of Columbus, Pike gave Romney 5,685 votes and Obama 5,684 votes.
2. Price, Wisconsin (Obama by 0.04 points and 3 votes): Price is located in the north-central part of the state, in the congressional district of Republican Sean Duffy.
3. Winnebago, Iowa (Romney by 0.05 points and 3 votes): The county sits on the Minnesota border near Interstate 35, about halfway between Des Moines and St. Paul-Minneapolis.
4. Monroe, Arkansas (Romney by 0.06 points and 2 votes): Interstate 40 runs through this east-central area that’s in Republican Rick Crawford’s district.
5. Anne Arundel, Maryland (Romney by 0.08 points and 197 votes): The county includes Annapolis, the state capital. Anne Arundel was the closest county in the nation among those that cast at least 12,000 votes in 2012.
6. Harris, Texas (Obama by 0.08 points and 971 votes): The county that includes Houston cast 1.19 million votes, fifth-most in the nation. City precincts are Democratic while suburbs lean Republican.
7. Greene, Iowa (Romney by 0.10 points and 5 votes): Greene is located northwest of Des Moines and west of Ames.
8. Lenoir, North Carolina (Romney by 0.11 points and 32 votes): Lenior also was the eighth closest county in 2008, when Republican presidential nominee John McCain carried it by 0.09 points and 23 votes.
9. Chaffee, Colorado (Obama by 0.15 points and 16 votes): Chaffee was the 10th-closest county in 2008, when it backed McCain by 0.11 points and 11 votes.
10. Iron, Wisconsin (Romney by 0.17 points and 6 votes): This county abuts Price County to the north and also touches Lake Superior.