Prior to the 2002 redistricting, the district referred to a completely different area of Indiana, covering Fountain, Parke, Tippecanoe, Montgomery, Clinton, Boone, Hendricks, Vigo, Clay, Putnam, and Owen counties and parts of Morgan and Hamilton counties. The current area of the 7th Congressional District is largely the same as the now eliminated 10th Congressional District (including all of Center Township, now widely regarded as a Democratic stronghold due to its large African American population and gentrified middle class.)
Traditionally, the city and the district has been more competitive and much more Republican; in fact, one of the most Republican metropolitan areas in the country, particularly during the years when Richard Lugar and William H. Hudnut III served as Mayor of Indianapolis. However, in recent decades, much of the affluence of the city has begun to migrate to the edges of the city and outer Marion County, which has resulted in the Democratic lean. The northern edge of Marion county - an affluent, strongly conservative area - is not included in the district.
The southern and eastern parts of the district include the more modest neighborhoods of the city, which is home to Amtrak's largest repair yard. Since the late 1990s, there has been an influx of Mexican and Hispanic workers to the district, which has further increased its Democratic leanings. Also, as the industrial and financial center of Indiana, the district has been strongly influenced by the politics of the unions in the past; however, their influence over the district has become increasingly marginal in recent years.
In recent presidential contests, the district itself has given comfortable margins to Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama in recent years. Most recently in 2008, Barack Obama won 71% of the vote in the 7th Congressional District.
After the loss of a congressional seat in 2000 by virtue of that year's census, an ambitious redistricting plan was embarked upon, which was eventually implemented in 2002. The overall character of the district prior to this was solidly Republican and rural; however, since 2002, the previous area of the 7th Congressional District has been divided between the 4th Congressional District and the 8th Congressional District.