This is the eighth edition of a research project at PoliticusUSA known as Taking Back the House. You can check out the previous edition here. The purpose of this project is to analyze each Republican Congressional district in the United States and see how likely the district can go ‘Blue.’ To do this, I will take a look at the overall demographics of the district, as well as review the historical voting patterns and the record of the Congressperson representing the district. This series will run until we’ve looked at every single district in the country, which should take us right into the 2014 campaign season.
Congressional District: Arizona 5th District
U.S. Representative: Matt Salmon
Median Household Income: $60,624 (National Average: $51,017)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (National Rate: 7.2%)
Gender: 51.4% Female, 48.6% Male (National Percentages: 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male)
Age: 14.7% 65 and over (National Percentage: 12.8%)
Race: 87.6% White, 3.4% Black, 3.8% Asian, 1.4% American Indian (National Percentages: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian, 0.9% American Indian)
Ethnicity: 81.6% Non-Hispanic, 18.4% Hispanic (National Percentages: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic)
Urban/Rural Population Split: 99.7% Urban, 0.3% Rural (National Split: 82% Urban, 18% Rural)
District Voting Patterns: The 5th District was transformed due to redistricting in 2012. Previously, the district was competitive, as Democrat Harry Mitchell won both the 2006 and 2008 elections for the House seat. Mitchell was then defeated in 2010 by Republican David Schweikert, 52-43. This was almost an exact reversal of the results from 2008, when Mitchell defeated Schweikert by 9 points.
After redistricting took effect, Schweikert decided to run in the 6th District, opening up the opportunity for Salmon to run in the 5th. Salmon had previously been a member of the House in the ’90s, when he was elected to three terms out of the 1st District. He did not seek reelection in 2000 as he had made a promise that he’d stick to a self-imposed three-term limit. After making an unsuccessful run for Governor in 2002, he spent much of the next decade as a lobbyist.
Apparently, by 2012, he didn’t have nearly the same feelings about term limits, and decided he wanted back in Congress. Salmon did have a tough primary challenger in Kirk Adams, former Speaker of the Arizona State House. Salmon squeaked by Adams by a 52-48 margin. The general election was not nearly as close, as Salmon cruised to a 34 point victory over Democrat Spencer Morgan. During the Presidential election of 2012, the district swung heavily for Mitt Romney, as he carried it by 29 points. In 2008, the same district lines went for John McCain, 63-36.
Congressional Activity by Salmon: Salmon previously served in Congress from 1995-2001 before his most recent term. He was part of the Contract for America and the Republican Congressional landslide victory in the 1994 mid-term elections. Thus, he was part of Newt Gingrich’s government shutdown artists of the mid-90s. During that period of time, he served on the House International Relations Committee. His most notable ‘achievement’ during this time was his unsuccessful attempt to get Ronald Reagan’s profile added to Mt. Rushmore.
Currently, Salmon serves on two committees, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Education and the Workforce Committee. He is the Chair of a small subcommittee, the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere. Like most Republicans, he is pro-life and opposes same-sex marriage. Ironically, Salmon’s son is gay. However, Salmon has reiterated that he still doesn’t support marriage equality. Salmon is also known as being a strict fiscal conservative, as he pretty much opposes all new spending and is a Grover Norquist pledge signer. Therefore, he voted against raising the debt ceiling and reopening the federal government on October 16th.
Per OpenCongress, Salmon votes with his party 93% of the time. Pretty much, when Salmon has gone against the Republican majority, it is typically on a spending bill that he feels isn’t conservative enough. For instance, in July 2013, he voted against the farm bill that didn’t include SNAP (i.e. food stamps.) It wasn’t because he was sympathetic to poor people not being fed. It was because he thought there was still too much spending in the bill. Because of his views, RedState placed him on their ‘Conservative Fight Club’, which basically consists of members of Congress who say no to pretty much any new spending.
Notable Quotes by Salmon:
“As our deficit and national debt figures continue to explode at alarming rates, so too do health care costs. Despite having some of the finest physicians, hospitals and medical centers in the world, America remains a nation with too many of its citizens unable to access affordable health care or who choose to forgo health insurance all together.” – Discussing health care reform on his campaign website.
“It is the duty of our federal government to protect and secure our national borders. Yet, as the constant threat of terrorism and increased drug cartel violence intensifies, millions of unidentified persons continue to cross our borders illegally, posing grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people.” – Discussing border security, once again from his campaign website.
Odds of District Going Blue in 2014: Highly, highly doubtful. After redistricting, this district became pretty safe for Republicans. Essentially, the entire 6th District became the 5th District. The area is the wealthier suburbs of Phoenix. Therefore, the population is essentially, upper-middle class, white, conservative suburbanites. You do have a healthy sized Hispanic population, but at 18%, that group isn’t going to swing the election to the Democrats.
Salmon is pretty much the perfect Representative for this district. Living in a self-imposed bubble, the citizens can pretty much believe that the whole country will thrive if we just keep cutting the top marginal taxes and cut spending to the bone. Even if it doesn’t work, they don’t care, as they live in a well to-do area. As long as Salmon stays anti-immigration, anti-gay , pro-life and pro-guns, and sticks with his ultra-conservative views on the economy, then he’ll represent the district as long as he wants to. He won’t need to worry about a Tea Party challenger and Democrats will get no traction.
Justin is the Managing Editor and a Contributing Writer for Politicus Sports, PoliticusUSA’s very own sports site. You can check out the site here.