Washington 2nd District
The 172 San Juan Islands, in the waters of Puget Sound at the far northwest corner of Washington, were the last part of the continental United States to be turned over to this country. These waters were great whaling grounds, and not until 1860 did the British relinquish them. Today, ferryboats ply the waters of the sound, connecting the islands to mainland Washington and to British Columbia, directly to the west. The publicly operated Washington State Ferries system has more than 26 million passengers annually. Whale-watching is popular not only with tourists, but also among scientists on both sides of the border. This is some of the most beautiful land and water of North America: the steely blue sound with green forested hills rising behind, shielded from the full force of Pacific rains by the Olympic Mountains, though still seldom dry. The little towns, on bits of level land between the water and the mountains, have the look of pristine New England villages or Midwestern historic towns but are better preserved. The stores are full of fresh produce and local seafood. The Seattle metropolitan area has marched north along the shore of Puget Sound, beyond the old lumber port and railroad terminus of Everett, with the huge Boeing plant where 747s, 777s and the new long-range twin-engine 787s are built. Sales of 787 Dreamliners have been especially strong. However, the plane’s inaugural flight has been delayed for almost two years, and concerns about its weight prompted Boeing to reduce the projected flight range for the first set of Dreamliners. To the north of Seattle are Bellingham and Blaine (named for the House Speaker and 1884 presidential nominee), on the 49th parallel, with America’s most attractively landscaped border crossing and the International Peace Arch, just south of British Columbia. Local studies have aroused fears that global warming combined with shifting ocean wind patterns will raise the water level of the sound higher than in most other areas. But for now, the region’s deepwater ports, two days closer to Asia than Southern California ports, are booming with container cargo.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 2nd Congressional District of Washington encompasses the San Juan Islands, including 45-mile-long Whidbey Island, and most of the margin of mainland along the sound and the huge Cascade Mountains, topped by snow-capped Mount Baker. The district has several military installations, including a relatively new, high-tech Navy base at Everett and a naval air station on Whidbey Island. The political tradition in most of the lumbering and fishing areas here is Democratic, while the rich agricultural areas, like the flower-bulb-growing Skagit Valley, are more Republican. Everett tends to be Democratic, some of the nearby new suburban towns Republican. Overall, this is a nearly evenly balanced district that tends to vote close to the state average. George W. Bush lost here 51%-47% in 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won the district 56%-42% in 2008.