Taking Back the House, Vol. 1: Martha Roby and Alabama’s 2nd District

Last updated on October 26th, 2013 at 11:16 am

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This is the first edition of a research project at PoliticusUSA known as Taking Back the House. 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: Alabama 2nd


U.S. Representative: Martha Roby


Population: 678,860


Median Household Income: $41,360 (National Average: $51,017)


Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (National Rate: 7.2%)


Gender: 51.5% Female, 48.5% Male (National Percentage: 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male)


Age: 14.5% 65 and over  (National Percentage: 12.8%)


Race: 66.3% White, 29.7% Black, 1% Asian (National Percentage: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian)


Ethnicity: 96.7% Non-Hispanic, 3.3% Hispanic (National Percentage: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic)


Urban/Rural Population Split: 54.7% Urban, 45.3% Rural (National Split: 82% Urban, 18% Rural)


District Voting Patterns: Martha Roby was first elected to office in 2010. She defeated Democratic incumbent Bobby Bright in a very close election, 51.1% to 48.9%. Bright, the former mayor of Montgomery, had barely won election himself in 2008, as he defeated Republican Jay Love by less than 2,000 votes. Longtime incumbent Republican Terry Everett had announced his retirement and did not seek reelection. After winning a very close vote in 2010, Roby easily won reelection in 2012, defeating Democratic candidate Therese Ford by over 27 points.


Besides the one term of Bobby Bright, the district has historically voted in Republican members to Congress since 1964, which coincides with the Dixiecrats switching allegiance to the Republican Party over the Civil Rights Act. Everett served eight terms and he succeeded Republican William Dickinson, who served 14 terms before retiring.


As for the presidential elections, the district went heavily for Mitt Romney in 2012, as he carried the district by a 63-36 margin. John McCain got the vast majority of the votes in 2008, as he won the district by nearly 30 points.


Congressional Activity by Roby: For the most part, Roby has gone along with the majority of the Republican caucus on bills brought up for a vote. Per the website OpenCongress, Roby votes with her party 94% of the time. Therefore, she’s gone with the caucus on all of the meaningless ACA repeal votes, as well as any votes limiting abortion rights and cutting food stamp funds.


She also voted against raising the debt ceiling and ending the government shutdown. She may have done this due to being targeted by Club for Growth in February as not being ‘conservative enough’ and labeled a RINO. Per the organization, she is someone who needs to be presented a more conservative primary challenger in 2014, as she is far too liberal. Per the National Journal, she ranked as the 123rd most conservative member of Congress in 2012.


Notable Quotes by Roby:


“My job was to look at the days and the weeks and the months and the years leading up to that day, and ask the question: Why weren’t we prepared, and who is responsible? If the White House is projecting that we were safe, the White House has to take responsibility of our lack of preparedness.” -made on October 17th, 2013 in regards to yet another hearing on Benghazi. Roby was made chair of the HASC subcommittee.


“A government shut down for our military will not force the president to defund and dismantle the law that carries his name and is his signature piece of legislation. We have to face political realities that whereas I disagree with the (Affordable Healthcare Act), we’ve got to win elections in order to change it and come behind it with free market principles that would drive down the cost for healthcare in this country – increasing competition to make it more available and more accessible, which I think we all want, no matter what place you come from…” – In a speech to the Ozark Rotary Club on September 24th, 2013. Despite these comments days before the shutdown took effect, Roby would still vote no to raising the debt ceiling and opening the government hours before the debt ceiling hit its limit.


Odds of District Going Blue In 2014: Very, very slim. Yes, as recently as 2010, there was a Democratic representative for this district. However, Bright was an extremely conservative Democrat. He was rated as the most conservative Democrat during his single term by the National Journal. In fact, he didn’t even associate with a party until he ran for Congress. He was part of the Blue Dog Coalition. There was actually speculation at one point that he’d switch parties. He voted against the stimulus in 2009.


Now, there is a significant amount of black voters in the district, but they are still outnumbered by white voters by a more than 2-1 margin. Also, there is a very small percentage of Hispanics in that district. Combine that with the large number of rural residents, along with a slightly higher rate of voters 65 and over and you have the stereotypical conservative Republican voter. Roby won by a wide margin in 2012 and probably only has a Tea Party primary challenger to worry about in 2014. Now, perhaps a Democratic challenger can use her vote to send us over the edge into financial disaster against her. However, I feel like she’ll get support on that from enough of her constituents, due to the large number of old, white rural citizens who quite likely feel it was the right thing to do.


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.

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