Georgia 2nd District
Before the Civil War, the southwest corner of Georgia was plantation country. This is where the Confederate Army ran the Andersonville military prison, which killed about 13,000 of the 45,000 Union soldiers confined there, through disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding and exposure. They are remembered at the National Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville, which is dedicated to all Americans who have endured wartime captivity. Today, the military is still a strong presence, and bases in the area have been largely unscathed by several rounds of closings in recent years. Fort Benning is the Army’s third largest installation, home of the Army Infantry School and the Army Armor Center and School. Benning can train as many as 16,000 soldiers at a time. As a boost to the otherwise gloomy local economy, its workforce in 2013 is expected to be 41,600, including transfers as a result of the military’s overseas downsizing.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
But the region is mostly farmland: Cotton and peanuts are major crops, and pecans are also grown here. Near the Florida border is Cairo, the birthplace of baseball’s black pioneer Jackie Robinson; Plantation Trace, near Thomasville, is where rich Northerners have come to shoot quail and ducks in winter since the 1880s, a part of Georgia culture memorialized in Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full. A bit to the north is Albany, with several factories, a civil rights museum and the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s least successful civil rights protests in the 1960s. Not far from Albany, between upland pine stands and bottomland habitats, lies the Chickasawatchee Swamp, one of the Southeast’s largest freshwater swamps and home to rare plant species such as the needle palm and the green fly orchid. Two counties north is the village of Plains, the home since childhood of former President Jimmy Carter, who has said he wants to be buried in his front yard. Plains now has a major biofuels factory. This is still hardscrabble country: As recently as World War II, most rural residents lived in clapboard cabins without power or running water, eking a living out of over-tilled soil.
This is Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District. In the 2005 redistricting, it lost virtually all of Valdosta, but increased to two-thirds its share of Columbus and Muscogee County. Eight rural counties between Columbus and Macon were added. The net effect was to raise the African-American population in the district from 45% to 48%. President Bush won here in 2004, but with only 50.02%. In 2008, Barack Obama took Muscogee County 60%-40%, and the district as a whole voted for Obama 54%-45%.