Tennessee 7th District
Rural Tennessee north of Mississippi is one of the most sparsely settled areas in the state. Along each side of the Tennessee River, as it flows north and widens out into Kentucky Lake amid heavy forests, are small rural communities. Many date to pre-Civil War days and have not grown much since. One of these is Waynesboro, where Davy Crockett delivered campaign speeches from the base of a huge natural stone double bridge overlooking the Buffalo River. Farther west is McNairy County, where Sheriff Buford Pusser of Walking Tall fame carried his big stick and fought organized crime until his untimely death in a car crash 1974. In Fayette County, outside of Memphis, black sharecroppers in 1959 were removed from white-owned land and protested by creating a “tent city” that went on for a decade, the longest civil rights protest in the nation. This mostly empty land is bounded on two sides by large metropolitan areas, Nashville to the east and Memphis to the west. South of Nashville is booming Williamson County, which had more slaves than whites prior to the Civil War, was occupied by the Union Army for three years and was a scene of devastation. Though pockets of poverty linger, its bedroom communities of Franklin and Brentwood make it today the most affluent, highly educated and fastest-growing county in Tennessee. To the north, along the Cumberland River, is fast-growing Clarksville, with many well-restored 19th century homes, a large industrial park and the sprawling Fort Campbell army base, which is home to the 101st Airborne Division and has more than 20,000 military personnel just across the Kentucky border. In 2007, Clarksville was the country’s 10th fastest-growing metropolitan area.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 7th Congressional District of Tennessee spans this territory, packing in Republican voters from Montgomery County’s seat of Clarksville, south through the western half of Cheatham County and most of Williamson County plus a bite of Nashville-Davidson. It rambles on west across the Tennessee River and south to the Mississippi border and finally to the east side of Memphis and Shelby County. On the map, this looks like a rural district. Demographically, it’s mostly suburban. The 7th District grew by 15% between 2000 and 2007, making this the fastest-growing district in the state. Almost 40% of its votes are cast in metro Memphis and 30% in metro Nashville, mostly in the Republican stronghold of Williamson County. Another 11% are cast in Montgomery County and only 21% are from the smaller rural counties. The 7th is solidly Republican. In 2004, while Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry won Nashville 55%-45%, Republican George W. Bush carried the four rapidly growing counties in the southern and eastern suburbs of Nashville by 91,000 votes (66%-33%), with 72% in Williamson. In 2008, GOP nominee John McCain won every county here except for Hardeman, losing it by only 694 votes. He won the district 66%-33%.