North Carolina 13th District
Metropolitan growth has come to the long-humble countryside of North Carolina. A generation ago, Raleigh, Durham, Burlington, and Greensboro were a string of small cities connected by Interstate 85 across the central Piedmont, moderately prosperous, with textile, tobacco, and furniture factories, but not very big. Just a few miles from the center of town, farm fields started, dotted by country towns with barbecue restaurants and churches. The counties to the north were almost purely rural, with a few factory towns. Today, many of the old tobacco fields are used for growing other crops. The booming metropolitan areas of North Carolina have spread far beyond the old city and county lines into the adjacent counties. Wake County, which includes Raleigh, grew 33% between 2000 and 2007. Rural roads are clogged in the morning with commuters headed for jobs in new office parks, and income levels have risen far above what they once were.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Much of this territory makes up the 13th Congressional District of North Carolina, created after the 2000 census. Half of its residents live in Wake County, including the center of Raleigh and its expanding skyline. A tangent goes off to North Carolina State University and much of the northern part of the county, except for the affluent new subdivisions that are mostly in the 4th District. In 2007, Forbes magazine rated Raleigh the nation’s best city in which to find a job. Another 16% of district residents live in Guilford County, with African-American neighborhoods and the University of North Carolina’s Greensboro campus. The rest of the district includes all or most of four counties up to the Virginia border—Granville, Person, Caswell, and Rockingham—with fairly large black percentages. The district lines were drawn by the Democratic Legislature to produce a new Democratic district, one of the few created in the South in recent decades that does not have a majority or near-majority of blacks. The district is 28% African-American. But the rural counties have a historical Democratic heritage, and university neighborhoods are heavily Democratic. The district has been closely divided in presidential races, but Barack Obama won it with 59.5% in 2008. George W. Bush won the district narrowly in 2000 and John Kerry won it by a slight margin in 2004.