Tech Law Journal Congressional Scorecard 1998

Urban, Suburban, and Rural Variations in Support for High Tech


Senate Scores
House Scores
Scorecard Criteria
Notes on Methods


Senate Top 10
House Top 10


Regional Patterns
Urban vs. Rural
Party Affiliation
Digital Divide
Gender Gap?
Age and Seniority

(January 5, 1999)  Tech Law Journal examined how inner city, urban, suburban, and rural congressmen compare in their support for high tech. A district by district review suggests that inner city and urban districts tend to have Representatives with low scores. The main exception is districts with concentrations of high tech industry. Suburban districts tend to have Representatives with higher scores. Finally, Representatives from rural areas tend to either have high or low support scores.

This article is a part of the Tech Law Journal Congressional Scorecard 1998 series.   All 100 Senators and all 435 Representatives were ranked on a 0 to 100 scale on the basis of five objective criteria (roll call votes on, and sponsorship of, bills pertaining to encryption, Internet tax moratorium, securities litigation reform, H1B visas, as well as membership in the Internet caucus).

Rural and Small Town America

There is unquestionalbly a significant group of Representatives and Senators who represent large bodies of rural voters who are very pro tech.  For example, the Internet Caucus now has four co-chairs: Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT, Score 100), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT, Score 100), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA, Score 80), and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA, Score 80).  None of these men represent a state or district with either any significant high tech industry, or any cities. They not only scored high on the Scorecard, their leadership on tech issues led to their selection for the Top Ten lists.

Many other advocates of high tech come from rural states or districts. For example, eleven of the twenty-three House members with perfect scores have districts that are at least 15% rural. They are listed below in Table 1. Two more of the twenty-three, Bob Matsui (D-CA-5) and Rick White, had over 10 percent rural districts.  Also, Darlene Hooley (D-OR-5) represents a 35% rural district.  Her score was 80, but would have been 100 had she not missed the vote on the securities litigation reform bill, which she supported.

Table 1.
Representatives with Scores of 100
From Districts that are 15% or More Rural


State %
Party District Description
Jennifer Dunn WA-8 21 R Seattle suburbs; King and Pierce Counties
Vernon Ehlers MI-3 24 R Grand Rapids and surrounding farm counties
Sam Farr CA-17 15 D San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Monterey Counties
Paul Gilmore OH-5 54 R Eight farm counties in northwest Ohio
Bart Gordon TN-6 54 D North of Nashville
Scott Klug WI-2 36 R Dairy, beef, and corn farmland; Madison
George Neathercutt WA-5 29 R Spokane; eastern Washington
Pete Sessions TX-5 * R Dallas; east Texas
Cliff Stearns FL-6 48 R North central Florida
Billy Tauzin LA-3 34 R Cajun country; swampland; shrimping; Tabasco
Jerry Weller IL-11 20 R Chicago suburbs; industrial Joliet; farmland
* Due to recent redistricting, data is not available.  About one half of the voters in the Texas 5th reside in Dallas County, while the other half is spread over nine largely rural counties between Dallas and Houston.

Next, out of the seventy-three Representatives who scored 80, the second highest score, twenty-five come from districts where at least 30% of the population is rural.  They are listed in Table 2 below.

Table 2.
Representatives with Scores of 80
From Districts that are 30% or More Rural

Name State Score % Rural Party
Bill Barrett NE-3 80 56 R
John Boehner OH-8 80 38 R
Rick Boucher VA-9 80 71 D
Richard Burr NC-5 80 60 R
Chris Cannon UT-3 80 23 R
Tom Coburn OK-2 80 63 R
Michael Crapo ID-2 80 39 R
Jay Dickey AR-4 80 52 R
John Doolittle CA-4 80 38 R
Phil English PA-21 80 44 R
Sam Gejdenson CT-2 80 45 D
George Gekas PA-17 80 39 R
Bob Goodlatte VA-6 80 34 R
William Goodling  PA-19 80 50 R
Lindsey Graham SC-3 80 58 R
J.D. Hayworth AZ-6 80 33 R
Darlene Hooley OR-5 80 35 D
Bob Inglis SC-4 80 36 R
Nancy Johnson CT-6 80 32 R
Sue Kelly NY-19 80 30 R
Tom Latham IA-5 80 52 R
David McIntosh IN-2 80 43 R
Mike Oxley OH-4 80 46 R
John Shimkus IL-20 80 48 R
Robert Smith OR-2 80 50 R

While there is a large body of rural legislators who have high support scores, it is not accurate to say that rural legislators as a whole have high support scores.   There is also a large group of legislators from rural districts who have very low scores.  They are listed in Table 3, below.

Table 3.
Representatives with Scores of 0 or 20
From Districts that are 30% or More Rural

Name State Score % Rural Party
Scotty Baesler KY-6 20 37 D
Marion Berry AR-1 20 53 D
Sherrod Brown OH-13 20 36 D
Roy Blunt MO-7 20 48 R
Pat Danner MO-6 20 37 D
Lane Evans IL-17 0 38 D
Maurice Hinchey NY-26 20 43 D
Jay Johnson WI-8 20 44 D
Paul Kanjorski PA-11 0 40 D
Ron Klink PA-4 0 33 D
Frank Mascara PA-20 20 40 D
Allan Mollahan WV-1 20 55 D
John Murtha PA-12 20 70 D
James Oberstar MN-8 0 60 D
David Obey WI-7 0 59 D
John Olver MA-1 20 36 D
Ron Paul TX-14 20 51 R
Colin Peterson MN-7 20 60 D
Glenn Poshard IL-19 20 51 D
Nick Rahall WV-3 20 74 D
Bernie Sanders VT-AL 0 68 Soc
Max Sandlin TX-1 20 56 D
Ike Skelton MO-4 20 61 D
Floyd Spence SC-2 20 40 R
Bart Stupak MI-1 0 69 D
Gene Taylor MS-5 0 35 D
Bennie Thompson MS-2 20 55 D
Karen Thurman FL-5 20 42 D
Jim Turner TX-2 20 61 D
Robert Wise WV-2 20 62 D
Don Young AK-AL 20 33 R

A similar pattern exists in the Senate.  By U.S. Census data, Vermont is the most rural state in the nation.  Patrick Leahy (Score 100) is one of its Senators.   (Bernie Sanders (Score 0) is its at large Representive.)  West Virginia is the second most rural state.  It is presented by Robert Byrd (Score 0) and Jay Rockefeller (Score 20).

The lists in Tables 1 through 3 shows that there are many districts that are very similar in terms of their demographics and economy, but which are represented by legislators with vastly different approaches to high tech issues.  The most obvious anamoly is Leahy (Score 100) and Sanders (Score 0), who represent the same electorate.   Another anomoly is Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK, Score 80) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK, Score 20).  Both are conservative Republicans from the interior of Alaska.  Or, compare Boucher (Score 80) and Goodlatte (Score 80), who represent western Virginia, to the three West Virginia Representatives Molahan (Score 0), Wise (Score 20), and Rahall (Score 20).

The lists of "rural techies" and "rural non techies" do reveal two patterns.  First, most of the rural techies are Republicans. Rick Boucher, Bart Gordon, Darlene Hooley, and Sam Gejdeson, and Pat Leahy are exceptions to the trend.   Conversely, most of the non techies are Democrats. Ron Paul, Floyd Spence, and Don Young are exceptions.  Second, region is important.  None of the non techies are from the west.

Finally, another way to measure support for high tech from rural legislators would be to calculate the correlation coefficient for the U.S. Census figures for the percentage of each district or state that is rural, and that district's or state's representatives' support scores.  The statistical correlation is positive, but very small for the House (.05), and nearly zero for the Senate.


Just as legislators from rural America differ in their approaches to high tech issues, so do those from the metropolitan areas.  However, in the cities the pattern is clearer.  Suburban and exurban legislators tend to support high tech more, and inner city and urban legislators tend to support high tech less.

Tech Law Journal has no data set which measures the percentage of each Congressional district that is inner city, urban, suburban, and exurban, or similar breakdowns.   Instead, the discussion that follows is a case by case analysis of several major metropolitan areas.  Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City metropolitan areas are examined.

In the New York tri-state metropolitan area support for high tech is scarce.  The Representatives from the five boroughs, the western end of  Long Island, and urban northern New Jersey just across the Hudson, score very low. For these eighteen districts (NY 4, 6-17 and NJ 6 and 8-13) the average score is only 27.78.  The outer suburbs have a higher average score.  The average score for the remainder of Long Island (NY 1-3 and 5), Westchester County (NY 18 and 20), the suburban districts of Connecticutt (CT 3-5), and New Jersey (NJ 5, 7, 11, and 12) is 53.85. This is a little better than the national average.  However, none of these districts was represented by someone with a score of over 60.  It is only some of the representatives from the surrounding hinterland that have scores of 80.  These are the representatives from the Hudson Valley (Kelly), northern Connecticut (Johnson), and eastern Connecticut (Gejdenson).

Chicago is similar, but even less supportive of high tech. The inner city and urban districts of Cook County (IL 1-5, 7, 9) have representatives with very low scores.   The average score was an extremely low 11.43.  Bobby Rush scored 40, Guitierez scored 20, and the other five all scored 0.  The suburban districts fared better.   These are represented by Harris Fawell (R-IL-13, Score 20), Henry Hyde (R-IL-6, Score 40), and Phil Crane (R-IL-8, Score 60).  Jerry Weller (R-IL-11), who represents some of the posh southern suburbs, as well as farmland, scored 100.  The new House Speaker, Rep. Denny Hastert (R-IL-14, Score 80), represents a rural district to the west of Chicago.

The Los Angeles area is more supportive of high tech, but the same urban-suburban difference prevails there too.  There is a set of Representatives from nine continguous districts in the middle of Los Angeles County with an average score of only 22.5 (CA 29, 30, 32-35, 37, and 39). On the periphery of Los Angeles County the scores go up. The eleven districts that abut on and surround these inner districts have a very high average score of 76.36 (CA 24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 41, 47, 46, 45, 38, and 36). Further south, on the "silicon coast," several more representatives have perfect scores. In fact, in California, almost all of the Representatives from outside of the centers of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Oakland have very high scores.

There are several exceptions to the pattern of city centers being represented by people with low scores. First, there is Seattle, which was represented by Rick White (Score 100), Jennifer Dunn (Score 100), and , Jim McDermott (Score 40).  Second, there is the Boston area, which was represented by Joe Kennedy (Score 80), John Moakley (Score 80), Ed Markey (Score 60), and Barney Frank (Score 80).  Finally, there is the Washington DC area, which was represented by Connie Morella (Score 100), Tom Davis (Score 80), James Moran (Score 60), and Al Wynn (Score 20). Eleanor Norton is the non voting delegate representing the "inner city". She still managed a score of 40. Of course, the Seattle, Boston, and Washington DC areas all have major concentrations of high tech.