The seat is coastal and rural in nature, with declining traditional industries but an ever-present tourism industry. Coal mining and textiles have diminished and the major employers are now in agriculture and tourism. The resort of Largs, which markets itself on its strong historical links to the Vikings, and the Isle of Arran are the two most popular holiday and day-tripper destinations.
This seat also includes the nuclear power plant of Hunterston in North Ayrshire which was commissioned in 1976 and is due to be decommissioned in 2023.
Historically, Cunninghame North and its predecessor seat of North Ayrshire and Bute were won at Westminster by the Conservatives from 1918 until 1987 when Labour's Brian Wilson held the seat until standing down in 2005. At the 1999 and 2003 Scottish Parliament elections, Labour's Allan Wilson won. The SNP's Kenneth Gibson took the seat in 2007, and retained it in 2011.