Tennessee 8th District
West of Nashville and the lakes along the Tennessee River and north of Memphis, the rivers roll lazily through flat or gently rolling land that almost could be the northern end of Mississippi. Cotton and soybeans are the main crops, and they often are abundant. More African-Americans remain in rural areas here than in any other part of Tennessee, a reminder of its old plantation economy. The towns are small, edged in by farm fields. The river bottoms, often flooded, are heavily forested. Henning, the hometown of Alex Haley, is where he used to sit on his porch and listen to his aunts tell him stories about slave ships and the Civil War, which became his book Roots.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 8th Congressional District of Tennessee includes much of this West Tennessee farmland, from the lakes west to the Mississippi. Its largest city is Jackson, which Morgan Quinto Press ranked ninth on its annual list of the most dangerous American cities in 2006. Delta faucets and Toyota parts are manufactured in Jackson, and the district also includes the northern fringes of Memphis. Historically, this is Democratic country. Republicans haven’t represented most of the counties that make up the 8th since the end of Reconstruction. The region trended Republican in national races in the 1960s and 1970s, then turned toward the Democrats with the help of some smart local politicians. One of them was Ned McWherter, Tennessee House speaker from 1973 to 1986, then governor for eight years. Recent movement has been back toward Republicans. Rural Carroll County is filled with small factories and is something of a bellwether in Tennessee politics, voting 50%-49% for Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 56%-43% for him in 2004. In 2008, the county voted for John McCain by 3,475 votes. Overall, the district voted 51%-48% for Al Gore in 2000, switched to Bush 53%-47% in 2004, and then supported McCain 56%-43% in 2008.