This is the thirteenth 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: Arkansas 3rd District
U.S. Representative: Steve Womack
Median Household Income: $41,109 (National Average: $51,017)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (National Rate: 7.2%)
Gender: 50.2% Female, 49.8% Male (National Percentages: 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male)
Age: 12.7% 65 and over (National Percentage: 12.8%)
Race: 85.2% White, 3.0% Black, 2.5% Asian, 1.2% American Indian (National Percentages: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian, 0.9% American Indian)
Ethnicity: 87.3% Non-Hispanic, 12.7% Hispanic (National Percentages: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic)
Urban/Rural Population Split: 67.6% Urban, 32.4% Rural (National Split: 82% Urban, 18% Rural)
District Voting Patterns: This district has been solid Red for a very long time. Pretty much, this district switched to the Republican Party after the Dixiecrats fled the Democratic Party in the ’60s. Womack was first elected to the House in 2010. The former mayor of Rogers, AR put his hat in the race when the incumbent, John Boozman, decided to run for Senate. Womack had to slog through a seven candidate Republican primary. The primary had to go to a runoff, where he narrowly defeated Cecile Bledsoe, 52-48.
In both 2010 and 2012, Womack has faced no major opposition during the general elections. In 2010, he defeated Democrat David Whitaker by 45 points. The 2012 election was even more of a blowout, as Democrat Ken Aden had to dropout late in the campaign. Womack won by 60 points over Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy. The last time a Democrat even got within 10 points in an election in the 3rd was 1992, when John VanWinkle was defeated by Tim Hutchinson by a three-point margin. In the Presidential elections, Mitt Romney carried the district by 34 points in 2012. In 2008, John MCCain won by a 64-34 margin.
Congressional Activity by Womack: Womack is currently on the Appropriations Committee. In terms of ideology, one thing that Womack is known for is his fierce stance on immigration. While mayor of Rogers, he was elected by running a tough anti-immigration platform. His actions led to a class action suit being brought against the city for racial profiling as he put two INS agents on the police force. Since coming to Congress, he has continued to speak out against illegal immigration. He is especially opposed to anything he feels promotes ‘amnesty’ to undocumented workers.
Considering he is a Southern Republican, it should come as no surprise that Womack is pro-life, against same-sex marriage and against any expanded gun control. He is pretty much a true rank-and-file Republican, as per OpenCongress, he’s voted with his party 97% of the time. However, he has taken made sure to vote against the Republican majority in two key instances: the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ bill on January 1st, 2013 and the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which raised the debt ceiling and reopened the federal government.
In February 2013, he introduced a bill to the House floor, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013. This bill actually had more Democratic support than Republican, especially in the Senate. It actually proposed to tax large online retailers in an effort to create a fairer marketplace for smaller retailers. Basically, it was a very un-Republican idea. Of course, it never went anywhere. The National Journal ranked him as the 150th most conservative member of Congress in 2012. Despite his ‘moderate’ leanings, it doesn’t appear that he is being targeted by the Tea Party in 2014, despite some faint rumblings shortly after the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ vote.
Notable Quotes by Womack:
“It’s the latest example of this President usurping the authority of Congress to achieve election-year objectives that he, himself, has admitted are not within his exclusive executive power. “The President acknowledged that America is a nation of laws; however, his actions serve to undermine the very laws enacted by Congress on immigration–just as he has with recess appointments, matters of national security, and the number of questionable decisions by agencies subject to his authority. “Millions of legitimate Americans are still out of work. We don’t need to be adding “insult to injury’ to the plight of these hard-working citizens.” – Statement released on June 15th, 2012 after President Obama’s announcement regarding ‘Dreamers’.
“Some things he says I agree with, like reducing the corporate tax rate…I heard amnesty. We’re not going there.” – Womack after the President’s State of the Union address in January 2011.
Odds of District Going Blue in 2014: None. There just doesn’t appear to be anyway that a Democrat can gain any traction in this district. Even if Womack had decided to run for either Senate or Governor in 2014 (he’s decided against both), there just isn’t a realistic way for a Democratic candidate to get even somewhat close in an election here, let alone win one. Overall, this is a predominantly white district, it is in the South, and it also has a high rural population. On top of that, WalMart is headquartered here. That probably explains the decent unemployment numbers but below-average median income.
This is one of those districts that’s always going to be a Republican stronghold. Nothing is really going to change that in the near future. While there is a decent-sized Hispanic population, which you can only assume will continue to rise, it is doubtful that it will ever be large enough to really change the overall voting pattern of the district. This is one area that is going to hang on to its conservative principles as long as it possibly can.
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.