Arizona 1st District
Beyond Phoenix, Arizona is a vast state of stunning beauty: the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, the subtle pastel hues of the Painted Desert, the sheer cliff walls of Canyon de Chelly, the still waters of Lake Powell, the mountainous pine forests around Flagstaff, and the rust-and-rosy red rocks of Sedona. It is also has man-made landmarks: The celebrated U.S. 66, now mostly superseded by Interstate 40, the old gold mining camp of Prescott, home since 1888 of America’s oldest annual rodeo. Jerome, a mining town built improbably on hillside stilts, has been reborn as an artist colony. There are old copper mining towns like Globe.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
All of these places are in the 1st Congressional District of Arizona, which includes over half the state and is larger than Pennsylvania. It covers most of northern Arizona, except for Mohave County and the Hopi Indian Reservation and a narrow band of land connecting them. It reaches south to the northern edges of the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. The 1st is the home of the nation’s largest Indian population, and a full 20% of its residents identify themselves as American Indians. There are several reservations here—Fort Apache, San Carlos, Zuni—but by far the largest is the Navajo Nation. (The Hopi are excluded because they have a long and angry boundary dispute with the Navajo and agreed to be part of the 2nd District). Most of the Navajo are in Apache County, with the rest in Navajo and Coconino counties. They have a history of fiercely contested tribal elections and considerable social problems. Unemployment has run close to 50%, nearly 60% of dwellings are without phone service, and 30% are without running water or electricity. Alcoholism and drug abuse remain rampant, and there is little economic development.
The 1st District was designed to be closely divided between the two parties, but today is solidly Republican in presidential elections. The copper mining counties of Greenlee, Graham, and Gila are historically Democratic and still register that way, but they tend to vote Republican. Apache County, with its Navajo majority, is heavily Democratic. Coconino County includes the college town and growing retirement mecca of Flagstaff, part of the Navajo Reservation, and Sedona, where the Army drove the Apaches off the land in the 1870s after gold was discovered; it is increasingly Democratic. Yavapai County is heavily Republican. It includes Prescott, where conservative icon Barry Goldwater always began his Arizona campaigns. President Bush won the district easily in 2004 with 54% of the vote, and Arizona native son John McCain won it similarly with 54% in 2008.