Georgia 12th District
In Georgia, the focus is usually on Atlanta. But the state also has some urbane smaller cities with roots deep in the past. One is Savannah, the state’s first capital, which by the 1830s was one of America’s booming cotton ports. It languished after the Civil War, and lived off paper mills and chemical plants in the 20th century, while impoverished blacks on the islands a few miles offshore still spoke Gullah dialects. Then, a few decades ago, preservationists started restoring houses and churches on a street grid punctuated by 24 squares that James Oglethorpe had laid out more than 200 years before. Today, Savannah is one of the most graciously preserved cities in the country and a major tourism destination thanks to the popularity of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a somewhat fact-based story of eccentricity and murder that was on best-seller lists for four years in the 1990s. In 2007, Savannah acquired a different sort of notoriety when the local Episcopal Church parted ways with the national diocese over the main church’s decision to affirm an openly gay bishop. The city actively competes with neighboring, and equally well-preserved, Charleston, S.C., not only for tourists but also for shipping. Another such city is Augusta, upriver on the Savannah. Founded in 1735 as a fur-trading post, it has been home to the Medical College of Georgia since 1835. The city, which has its own Cotton Exchange and Riverwalk, is also the boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 12th Congressional District of Georgia runs along the Savannah River and comprises almost all of Savannah and some of its suburbs and about 60% of Augusta. It contains the Depression-racked farm country near Augusta that Erskine Caldwell chronicled in his scandalous best-seller, Tobacco Road. The titular dirt thoroughfare, which led to a small port on the Savannah River, is now paved and runs through a nondescript mix of residential and commercial areas. In 2008, the district voted for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain, 55%-44%.