In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote.
Nickname: The First State
Motto: Liberty and Independence
About the State
Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution – which it did on December 7th, 1787 – thus earning itself its nickname. At just 96 miles in length and 30 miles across, Delaware is the second smallest state in terms of area and ranks 45th in population, with a little more than 900,000 residents. The land was originally occupied by the East Algonquin tribes, before being colonised by both the Dutch and the Swedes in the 17th century. Delaware was one of the thirteen colonies that took part in the Revolutionary War against the British in the late 1700s and, although slavery continued to be allowed, it was then part of the Union ranks in the Civil War. A move away from tobacco farming towards more agricultural production had resulted in a reduction of the number of slaves in Delaware – by 1860, more than 90% of African-American men in the state were free – but, despite fighting with the North, the state still voted against the 13th Amendment in 1865.
Modern day Delaware is known for its General Corporation Law, which provides advantageous conditions for businesses, such as only applying income tax on companies for profits earned within the state, and a fast and efficient legal system for processing paperwork or resolving disputes. As a result, more than 50% of US companies are incorporated in Delaware, including 63% of those on the Fortune 500. Further evidence that businesses recognise that Delaware is something of a tax haven within the United States comes in the form of a single storey building at 1209 North Orange Street, Wilmington, which is the legal address of more than 200,000 companies, including Google, Apple, Ford, Walmart and American Airlines. The state also has no usury laws restricting the amount of interest that can be charged and thus many credit card companies have based themselves in Delaware. Companies are charged registration fees annually, which together account for approximately 1/5th of the budget and enables the state to have no sales tax levied on consumer purchases.
Delaware has been the home of just one President or Vice-President – the current VP, Joe Biden, who served 6 terms as a Senator for the state – and is the only one out of fifty in the Union that does not have a National Park within its boundaries.
Electoral College Votes: 3
2008 Result: Obama 61.9% McCain 37%
Latest Poll: No recent polls – Strongly favouring Obama
Until the 2000 election, Delaware had been a “bell-weather state” – indicative of who would win the general election, as it had given its Electoral College Votes to the winning candidate every year since 1952. However, Gore and Kerry both won the state in their Presidential bids, meaning the last time a Republican candidate for the White House won Delaware was 1988 (Bush 41). Romney is highly unlikely to buck this trend with President Obama all but sure to win the state on November 6th.
Also on the Ballot
Gubernatorial: Governor Jack Markell (D) is up for re-election after winning the 2008 ballot with 67.5% of the vote. His opponent will be a Republican businessman, Jeff Cragg, but Markell is expected to comfortably win a second term.
Congress: There is one Senate race this year for Delaware – the two-term Democrat Tom Carper faces the GOP’s Kevin Wade – and the state has one Representative in the House, John Carney (D), who is being opposed by a Republican, Tom Kovach, and a Libertarian candidate, Scott Gesty. In both Congressional races, the incumbent Democrats are strongly favoured to win.