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banner Friday, 7 January, 2000, 17:20 GMT
District of Columbia
Despite being the home to the federal government, the District of Columbia is one of the most neglected places at election time. Its three electoral college votes are the most reliably Democratic in the country.

Key facts
Population: 523,124
D.C. Delegate: Eleanor Holmes Norton (D)
Electoral College votes: 3
District of Columbia has never been a straightforward place to govern. The Founding Fathers feared the capital's residents would be able to unduly influence the actions of the legislature so they decided to put the District of Columbia under the direct control of Congress. This situation continued for decades, partly due to the government's distrust of the District's majority black population.

By the 1960s and the civil rights movement it looked increasingly untenable to deny Washington the vote. So in 1964 the District of Columbia was given three electoral votes and in 1971 was given the ability to elect a non-voting Congressional delegate. In 1974 the District got a mayor and a city council that went on to have a dire record of incompetent government and political failure.

Voting record
1996: Clinton 85%, Dole 9%
1992: Clinton 85%, Bush 9%
1988: Dukakis 82%, Bush 14%
Alongside Washington's downtown and desirable areas such as Georgetown, sit neighbourhoods with the worst schools, hospitals and crime rates in the USA. As a result, 14% of the District's population fled during the 1990s, many of them African-American, who form nearly two thirds of the population. Between 1950 and 1997, the District lost one in three of its population.

In response the federal government intervened to tackle the District's problems, setting up a control board with power over finance, policing and public works. In 1999 the District recorded a budget surplus for the first time in years. Only now are powers being given back to the mayor and the city government as Mayor Anthony Williams rebuilds the confidence that was totally undermined by the rule of Marion Barry.

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