Maryland 4th District
In 1696, the proprietors of the colony of Maryland created a new county between the Potomac and Patuxent rivers and named it after the husband of the heir to the throne, Prince George of Denmark. During its 300 years, Prince George’s County has not often won national fame—maybe briefly when investigators chased the plotters of Abraham Lincoln’s murder here—but it might now. With a population that is nearly two-thirds African-American, Prince George’s is the home of America’s largest black middle class. It is also the wealthiest county with a majority black population. Historically, Prince George’s was tobacco country, dotted by slave plantations and pretty much controlled by its white property owners. A hundred years after the Civil War, the population grew as middle-class blacks moved out of neighboring Washington, D.C., into modest suburbs at the county’s edge and affluent subdivisions farther to the east. In the 1960s, this was one of the nation’s fastest-growing suburban counties. Its African-American population increased from 14% in 1970, to 37% in 1980, to 65% in 2006, as the county’s total population also grew. Prince George’s is affluent by national standards, and 70 % of women here work outside the home, one of the highest percentages in the nation. With office and shopping mall development, it has lately been far more commercially vibrant than adjacent parts of the District of Columbia.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
New economic development includes a 12-lane bridge across the Potomac River to replace the crumbling Wilson Bridge, and the nearby National Harbor hotel and convention center at Oxon Hill near the bridge, which is billed as the largest such non-casino facility on the East Coast. The county’s median household income of more than $65,000 compares favorably with the national median of about $48,000 and is double the national median for black households. “The county ranks in the top 2 percent in the nation in income level, and in people who are employed in executive jobs,” Ebony magazine reported. Yet amid this success, considerable problems remain: Prince George’s accounts for half of Maryland’s car thefts, and homicide rates tend to be high for a suburban county. The murder rate doubled from 2000 to 2004, though it has declined significantly since then.
The 4th Congressional District of Maryland includes most of Prince George’s County inside the Capital Beltway that rings Washington. It also includes a large portion of Montgomery County that is mostly outside the Beltway, starting in Silver Spring, heading up Georgia Avenue and covering a sizable rural area all the way to Clarksburg at the Frederick County line. This Montgomery County area is heavily Democratic, as is Prince George’s; Barack Obama won the latter by an extraordinary 89%-10% in 2008. Overall, this is the most Democratic district in Maryland. The biggest industry is government. It has the highest percentage of federal employees of any congressional district in the nation. Suitland, inside the Beltway in Prince George’s, is the home of the Census Bureau.