The Fourth District is predominantly rural, and is considerably more conservative than the western part of the state. It has been dominated by the Republican Party for several decades; only three Democrats have ever represented the district. The last Democrat to represent the district was Jay Inslee, who held the seat during the 103rd Congress. Hastings defeated Inslee in the 1994 election and has served in Congress ever since; Inslee later moved to Bainbridge Island and was sent back to Congress representing the First District in the central Puget Sound area. In the 2008 election, Hastings easily defeated challenger George Fearing (D-Kennewick).
In presidential elections, the 4th District is a Republican stronghold. George W. Bush carried the district in 2000 and 2004 with 62% and 63% of the vote, respectively. The 4th District also gave John McCain 58% of the vote in 2008, his strongest showing in Washington.