This is the second 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: Alabama 3rd
U.S. Representative: Mike Rogers
Median Household Income: $39,261 (National Average: $51,017)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (National Rate: 7.2%)
Gender: 51% Female, 49% Male (National Percentage: 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male)
Age: 13.5% 65 and over (National Percentage: 12.8%)
Race: 70.7% White, 25.9% Black, 1.2% Asian (National Percentage: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian)
Ethnicity: 97.5% Non-Hispanic, 2.5% Hispanic (National Percentage: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic)
Urban/Rural Population Split: 50.2% Urban, 49.8% Rural (National Split: 82% Urban, 18% Rural)
District Voting Patterns: Mike Rogers is serving his 6th consecutive term in office. He succeeded Republican Bob Riley, who did not seek reelection in 2002 as he decided to run for Governor of Alabama, a race which he won. In the 2012 election, Rogers easily defeated his opponent, Democrat John Andrew Harris, by a margin of 64-36. In 201, he also won reelection by a handy margin, as he defeated Democrat Steve Segrest by 19 points.
The district previously was a Democratic stronghold, as William Flynt Nichols was elected to 11 consecutive terms from the late ’60s to 1988. Glen Browder succeeded him after his death and went on to be elected to three more terms. He left the House to make an unsuccessful run for Senate. However, while redistricting and gerrymandering has made some impact on the district over the years, another reason these Democrats were successful in this district was due to their conservative credentials. Nichols was a staunch supporter of George Wallace while Browder was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition while he served.
During the 2012 Presidential elections, the district went 62-37 in favor of Mitt Romney. In 2008, John McCain won the district by 26 points.
Congressional Activity by Rogers: Per OpenCogress, Rogers votes with the GOP 94% of the time. He is considered a ‘rank and file’ Republican. As he has voted with his party this often, he has gone along with the numerous attempts (40+ so far) to repeal the ACA. He has a 100% pro-life voting record per the NRLC and also voted to take nearly $40 billion out of SNAP. When the ‘fiscal cliff’ vote came up on January 1st, 2013, he voted against the compromise bill that was eventually passed. Finally, he was among the 144 Republicans who voted against raising the debt ceiling and re-opening the government.
Per the National Journal, Rogers was the 139th most conservative member of Congress in 2012. Perhaps his fear of being seen as too ‘liberal’ by a group like the Club for Growth, or seeing Sarah Palin and the Tea Party place him in the crosshairs and send a primary challenger his way, made him vote against raising the debt ceiling. When you are a Republican, the last thing you want to hear is that you aren’t conservative enough and be labeled a RINO.
Notable Quotes by Rogers:
“CBS’s halftime show during the 2004 Super Bowl was a new low for television.” – Rogers commenting on the infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ when Janet Jackson exposed her breast during a Super Bowl halftime show.
“Although I may find the type of programming seen during the 2004 Super Bowl and the 2003 Golden Globe Awards disgusting and disturbing, we must always work hard to defend the cherished freedoms so clearly outlined in our Constitution, including a healthy and free press.” – Rogers once again discussing ‘filth’ on TV yet trying to point out that he isn’t for censorship.
Odds of District Going Blue in 2014: Unlikely. At first glance, it would seem like there are some glimmers of hope for the Democratic Party to make a play for the district. For starters, the unemployment rate is nearly twice that of the country. High unemployment should lead to the voters looking for change. You also have a relatively low median income when compared with the country as a whole. Also, there is a decent sized African-American segment of the population there. It seems possible, at least on the surface, that these factors could lead to a Democrat sneaking in and making a push.
However, I’d say that there are too many roadblocks in the way for Democrats to take this seat in 2014. First off, while there are quite a few black voters, whites still outnumber them nearly 3-1. Two other racial and ethnic groups that tend to vote Democratic, Asians and Hispanics, make up less than 4% of the total population of the district. Also, nearly half of the population live in rural areas. Rural voters tend to overwhelmingly be conservative.
Therefore, even though his district has high unemployment and low median income, and he’s voted to gut nutritional assistance and other social welfare programs, Rogers will probably find himself reelected next November. As long as he continues to campaign on Jesus, Guns and Freedom and lets his constituents know that he hates the Muslim Kenyan usurper currently infesting the White House, he’ll win comfortably. That is pretty much the sad state of affairs when it comes to politics in the rural South.
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.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).