Michigan 2nd District
Lining the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan, where the lake winds temper the frigid Michigan winters, are some of the nation’s longest and highest sand dunes. In the late 19th century, this shoreline was America’s lumber country. The river ports were choked with logs and full of lumbermen from Norway and Sweden, Ireland and Scotland, Quebec and New England. During the timber boom, the shoreline just to the south was the locus of the country’s largest migration from the Netherlands and today still has the nation’s largest concentration of Dutch-Americans. Wooden shoes are now seen only at the Tulip Festival in Holland, but conscientious Dutch work habits have produced many highly skilled workers, and this is a busy manufacturing area, with products ranging from baby food at Gerber in Fremont to self-dimming car mirrors at Gentex in Zeeland. It is also the center of the American office-furniture industry, with Herman Miller in Zeeland, Haworth in Holland and Steelcase in Grand Rapids. But the economic downtown of 2008 has had an impact, for sure. Pfizer recently shut down a factory in Holland. The territory away from the shore is fruit-growing country, with some of the nation’s largest cherry orchards to the north and blueberry patches to the south.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 2nd Congressional District of Michigan occupies the Lake Michigan shoreline counties, plus a tier of inland counties, including a small part of Grand Rapids’s Kent County. It stretches from the lumber country around Manistee south to Holland and the wealthy resort town of Saugatuck. For years, Dutch-American voters have been as strongly Republican as Cuban-Americans have been as an ethnically identifiable group, and the 2nd and 3rd Districts centered on Grand Rapids are the two most Republican districts in Michigan. Ottawa County voted 72% for George W. Bush in 2004, and 61% for John McCain in 2008.