California 2nd District
Rising 14,000 feet over low foothills and the Central Valley, visible for 100 miles, is the snow-capped volcanic cone of Mount Shasta, one of a string of (supposedly) burnt-out volcanoes up and down the Pacific Coast states. This is the far northern end of California, where truck traffic on Interstate 5 is the only reminder of the choked metropolitan areas where most of the state’s people live. This is lumber country mostly, where the mountains that rise on all sides—the Coast Range to the west, the Sierra Nevada to the east, the scattered mountains sealing off the Central Valley north of Redding—are carpeted with trees. It’s rugged, flannel-shirt, two-lane-road country that was left behind economically when Los Angeles and San Francisco boomed after World War II. North of Shasta, the tiny town of Weed became a logging center and a noted locale for racial integration a half-century ago, but the loss of jobs has led younger blacks and whites to move out. Farther south are the flat farm fields of the Sacramento Valley, spread across the 50 miles between the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Range. Since the 1980s, this northern end of California has been attracting people, mostly young families who come here to raise their children in a small-town environment, but also retirees looking for a calm atmosphere and low cost of living.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 2nd Congressional District of California covers most of this area. The district has three major population areas. One is Redding, south of Mount Shasta, where increased high-altitude snowfall has allowed the Whitney Glacier to defy global warming trends by growing in the past century, the only glacier to do so. The second is farther south, at the edge of the Sierra foothills, around the Butte County communities of Paradise and Chico, home to a state university campus and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. In 2008, surrounding areas suffered devastating forest fires. Still farther south are the farm counties of Colusa, Yuba, and Sutter, not far north of Sacramento. The locally cultivated rice hybrids from Colusa County, the leading rice-producing county in the nation, are a lucrative export. From 2000 to 2007, the district had a 9% population increase, with Hispanics increasing from 14% to 17%. The region has a Democratic heritage but is culturally conservative, angry at the “diktats” of urban environmentalists. Until 1980, it elected rough-and-ready Democrats who pulled strings in Sacramento and Washington to build roads and dams. Since then, it has elected abstemious Republicans who have solidly conservative voting records and tend to local needs. George W. Bush won 62% of the vote here in 2004, and John McCain won 55% in 2008, their best showings in a northern California district.