Massachusetts 2nd District
It’s as American as apple pie, the place where basketball was invented, the city where the Webster’s unabridged dictionaries (2nd and 3rd editions) were edited and published, and the site of the armory where unhappy soldiers mounted the Shays’ Rebellion in 1786-87. This is Springfield, Mass., the third-largest city in the Bay State, but far from Boston. Historically overshadowed by Hartford as the center of the Connecticut River Valley, it is a medium-sized American city built by New England Yankees. Immigrants from a dozen countries have worked their way up here. Blacks and Hispanics account for nearly half of its population. Like other New England city centers, Springfield’s downtown has emptied and its tax base has shrunk. Business leaders have tried to revive it, in part with the expansion of the Basketball Hall of Fame. But the once-powerful city has suffered from corruption and serious crime, and in 2004, it was forced to submit to state control in a financial bailout. In 2007, the online bizjournals rated Springfield the worst metropolitan area in the country for small business, and in 2006, the Census Bureau said it was sixth in the nation in the number of children living in poverty. Recent efforts to revive downtown have included a new federal courthouse; a huge expansion of the Baystate Medical Center; and plans to redevelop Union Station, which has been empty since the early 1970s. Local companies, too, have had to adapt. In the 1990s, the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson embraced the marketing restrictions sought by gun control advocates and then saw its sales sag, as gun control opponents—its natural market—shunned its products. Under new ownership, it abandoned that stance and sales rose again. Springfield is the home of Talkers magazine, known as “the bible of talk radio.”
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Springfield is the largest city in the 2nd Congressional District of Massachusetts, which stretches east from Springfield to a point 30 miles southwest of Boston. Its irregular boundaries travel north to South Hadley and Northampton (“Hamp” to locals; “NoHo” to the younger artsy crowd) and take in Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges. Since the downturn in the 1970s, trendy restaurants and avant-garde liberalism have revived these tourist destinations. To the east, the district stretches across stony hills and beyond Worcester to the antique center of Brimfield and the factory towns of the Blackstone Valley just north of Woonsocket, R.I. This was a Yankee Republican district for much of the 20th century, then a solidly Catholic Democratic district. Now it is more diverse culturally and even more solidly Democratic.