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banner Friday, 7 January, 2000, 17:51 GMT
Alabama

Alabama is solidly Republican and there are unlikely to be any electoral surprises.

Key facts
Population: 4,73,084 (ranked 22 among states)
Governor: Don Siegelman (D)
Electoral College votes: 9
It has voted Republican in five straight presidential elections, Bob Dole carrying six of the seven Congressional districts in 1996.

The Republicans can be volatile though, with both business and religious conservatives in its ranks. In 1998 Don Siegelman was elected Democrat governor partly because of a Republican rift that de-railed the re-nomination of Governor Fob James.

1998 Congress
House of Representatives: 2 Democrats, 5 Republcans
Senate: 2 Republicans
But although Democrats retain a strong base among teachers and lawyers, Republicans have made significant gains in areas outside their traditional urban precincts.

Issues affecting Alabama are race relations and the economy.

It was here in 1957 that Rosa Parks started the civil rights movement when she refused to move to the back of the bus. In 1963, riots in Birmingham provoked President John F Kennedy to endorse the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Voting record
1996: Dole 50%, Clinton 43%
1992: Bush 48%, Clinton 41%
1988: Bush 59%, Dukakis 40%
But under segregationist governor George Wallace, the state's political development lagged behind the rest of the USA. Governor Wallace dominated Alabama's politics for quarter of a century, ending an era of populist Democratic dominance that had seen crusades against Wall Street and support for landmark health and housing legislation.

Under Wallace, Alabama resisted integration and its economy suffered. The mills, shipyards and factories that had driven the economy of one of the South's most industrialised state's declined as world demand fell during the 1970s and 1980s.

Today Alabama is experiencing patchy economic growth. The southern seaboard around Mobile is thriving, its shipyards and chemical plants busy and running. In Birmingham a new economic base centred largely on health care and banking, is bringing prosperity and improved race relations. But the Fourth District is still suffering from job losses and foreign competition.

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