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I found an interesting article in today's Richmond Times Dispatch on the shift of politics in Northern Virginia. Think Virginia isn't shifting from "red" to "purple?" Consider this: In 1996 Senator John Warner (R) defeated Mark Warner (D) in Fairfax county by 53,000 votes. Move ahead 10 years to November 2006, and George Allen (R) was defeated by Jim Webb (D) in Fairfax by 64,000 votes. In 2000, George Allen (R) lost the city of Alexandria, and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William by a combined 42,000 votes. This past November he lost them by a combined 120,000 votes.

Cross posted from The Liberal Progressive, and at Raising Kaine

I found an interesting article in today's Richmond Times Dispatch on the shift of politics in Northern Virginia. Think Virginia isn't shifting from "red" to "purple?" Consider this: In 1996 Senator John Warner (R) defeated Mark Warner (D) in Fairfax county by 53,000 votes. Move ahead 10 years to November 2006, and George Allen (R) was defeated by Jim Webb (D) in Fairfax by 64,000 votes. In 2000, George Allen (R) lost the city of Alexandria, and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William by a combined 42,000 votes. This past November he lost them by a combined 120,000 votes. According to the RTD:

"Politicians attribute the turnaround to changing demographics, a Republican Party that appears to be too conservative for the region and the unpopularity of President Bush and the war in Iraq."

However, some residents of Northern Virginia had a different perspective:

"It's roads and development," said Matt McShea, a businessman who lives in Loudoun. "Before, people thought the Republicans would take care of things. Now they think the Democrats will."

Dale Eavey, who calls Harrisonburg his home but lives in Loudoun during the week to be close to his work, said many people blame the Virginia Department of Transportation. "They think all the money is going to Richmond when we need it up here."

Joan Shergalis of Ashburn added: "We have this growth up here, and nothing is being done about the roads in Northern Virginia."

Many others, myself included, believe the shift in politics in Northern Virginia is partly due to the area becoming much more urban, and partly due to a surge of voters moving down from northern states, which tend to be more Liberal anyway. Immigration, and "anti" voters also played a role in Northern Virginia:

"Carrie Smith, a businesswoman in Herndon, said the entire Town Council was voted out of office on Election Day because of a dispute over an immigration center.

She said voters were in an "anti" mood, and that's why they voted against Allen and for Democrat Jim Webb.

In addition to the urbanization of Northern Virginia, and the influx of more Liberal Northern voters, Northern Virginia also has a high minority population, which also generally tend to vote for Democrats over Republicans. In fact, of the estimated 1 million residents of Fairfax county, about 40 percent are considered minority, but according to the RTD, only about half of those are registered to vote, however, they still remain a powerful voting block:

"Republicans in Richmond and Washington engaging in immigrant-bashing haven't helped them up here," Democratic State Sen. Richard L. Saslaw added.

Shortly after he won reelection (by a more narrow margin than 2 years ago) U.S. Congressman Tom Davis (R-11th) wrote an op-ed piece to the RTD describing the influx of new voters to the region:

"A highly educated multiethnic pool of knowledge-based workers moving into Northern Virginia, mostly from out of state."

So what's attracting these highly educated workers? High tech jobs that pay well, of course. Gerald Connolly said in the RTD article that 27 percent of the adults in Fairfax have master's degrees. "Highly educated, high-tech people are more likely to vote Democratic," he went on to say.

You may remember last Tuesday when I wrote about the extreme sprawl around Richmond, where retail markets are becoming WAY over saturated, and the ridiculous amount of sprawl that is moving further and further out of the city. Well, it appears this is a big concern of some Northern Virginia voters as well, and according to the RTD, citizens of Loudoun and Prince William counties are rebelling, and one Republican consultant says the GOP has been on the WRONG side of the issue:

As for the outer suburbs, J. Kenneth Klinge, a veteran Republican political consultant, said the Republicans have been on the wrong side of the growth issue. Residents in Loudoun and Prince William are rebelling against development and traffic, he said, and the Republicans were slow to realize this.

He went on to say that Republicans now are perceived as moving too far to the right on social issues, and this has hurt them in Northern Virginia. This is important to remember because Northern Virginia voted OVERWHELMINGLY against the constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages.

Not everyone is thinking clearly though, Republican state Senator Jay O'Brien of Fairfax, whom according to the article is expected to face stiff opposition in his reelection bid in November 2007, thinks the November, 2006 election may have been an "aberration."  Of this year's election in Virginia he said:

"Republicans were mad because they didn't like all the spending, independents were mad because they didn't like the scandals, and Democrats were mad at President Bush because of the war."

I guess Mr. O'Brien forgot how Tim Kaine (D) handily defeated Republican Jerry Kilgore in November 2005 to become the second Democrat in a row to be the Governor of Virginia. I guess that was just an "aberration" too though. Furthermore, not just Democrats are "mad" at Bush about the war, according to polls, about 75% of Americans are upset over the situation in Iraq.

Regardless, I think this is an excellent article that is just more proof Virginia is not the hands down "red state" that it was just a couple of years ago. More proof that the politics of the Commonwealth have shifted to the left, and Virginia is INDEED, now a "purple state." Not only is there the very real potential for voters to shift control of the state G.A. to Democrats in 2007, but I also believe a potential for Virginians to vote for a Democrat for President for the first time since LBJ in 1964.

Originally posted to TheLiberalProgressive on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 06:30 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Virginia is no longer "southern" (8+ / 0-)

    It seems Virginia is now, like Florida, a "half-southern" state in the truest sense. Although other southern states feature many northern transplants, the transplants are disperesed enough and perhaps open to enough to the traditional white middle-class southern way of thinking about things that they are absorbed, Florida and Virginia are different. In FL and VA, a decidedly non-southern culture has formed the majority in pretty big chunks of the state.

    I think VA is a true battleground state now, much like  the almost all midwestern states and CO & NM.

  •  Mid-Atlantic personality profile (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jxg, MadGeorgiaDem, ca democrat, Predictor

    I agree with the premise of this article.  Virginia is losing its Confederate profile and is moving politically and culturally towards a Mid-Atlantic state profile.  Southside Virginia where the old Harry Byrd machine once was king is no longer the dominant driving force in Virginia state politics.

    Though one cautionary note.  Is is possible to overstate the Democrat surge.  Thelma Drake defeated Phil Kellum in a northern Virginia congressional district in a wave year so it would be a huge mistake to take anything for granted.  The battles are still one at a time.

    •  Northern Virginia? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Kellam was running in Hampton Roads and didn't run the best campaign. In Northern Virginia, our congressional challengers to our entrenched republicans came closer than anyone ever before. If Davis leaves to run for Senate in 08, his seat will be ours.

      Republicans are just being too socially conservative for much of Northern Virginia and the House republican opposition to Governor Kaine's transportation plan hurts them too.

      •  Heard this before but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        No one ever says what exactly Kellum failed to do that he should of.  What was the specific failure of the Kellum campaign?  I keep looking around for the answer to that and no one ever gives me a satisfactory answer.  Thelma Drake was not an entrenched incumbent afterall.  The only reason she is in Congress at all is becase former GOP Congressman Ed Schrock was caught placing ads trolling around for gay sex partners simliar to the Rev. Ted Haggard and had to make a hasty strategic retirement retreat.

        •  Kellam (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Predictor, walja

          didn't really try to make much of a distinction between himself and Drake. He was a very centrist candidate. He was relatively pro-war, was for the marriage amendment, wasn't exactly inspiring to the base, and he seemed to be relying on his family name.

          •  Kellam was no centrist (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VolvoDrivingLiberal, Predictor, walja

            Kellam portrayed himself as a hardline conservative.  He lost for the same reason Harold Ford lost.  He failed to stand up for Progressive values, so he lost the Democratic base, but the Wingnuts weren't having any of him, because they were all voting for Drake.

            He garnered no crossover and barely rallied his base, even though it was a targeted race.  A centrist he was not, a liberal he was not, a progressive he was not.  He was a conservative, but the conservative vote was already decided on his opponent.

            What are the lessons learned here for HRC and for 2008?

    •  No (0+ / 0-)

      Thelma Drake represents a Tidewater area district, which includes VA Beach and Norfolk. Her district is 4 hours to the SE of the DC suburbs. For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

      by jiacinto on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 06:58:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but VA-2 is not part of the Southside Virginia culture and it is part of the area that is in population transition Virginia.  It would not make sense to exclude the 2nd congressional district of Virginia from this discussion.

  •  Remember the money will flow better, as it always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    does, to the projected winners (in this case Democrats). That alone can make a huge difference in the outcomes (especially early money).

    How do you know a Republican is lying? Ask one: If the Republicans can lower gas prices for 60 days before an election, why won't they do it all the time?

    by ca democrat on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 06:45:32 PM PST

    •  true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ca democrat

      but Phil Kellum was not under funded and VA-2 was one of the 2 districts (PA-4 where Jason Altmire ousted Melissa Hart was the other) where MoveOn dropped a huge donation bomb on the district late in the game and Drake still survived.  I don't buy the argument that Kellum lost to Drake due to a lack of money (not that you are making it).  

      •  Kellam lost (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MadGeorgiaDem, ca democrat

        In Hampton Roads (3 hours from my house in Prinece William County) becase the gay marriage amendment brought out all the evangelical pat Robertson types.  

        Their spuouse could be screaming at them in the street with a loaded gun, but God help them if "the gays" are gonna marry since it's them that will ruin marriage.

        •  if true (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ca democrat, Predictor

          did the anti-gay wave unseat other Democrats on down the ballot?  Did other Demcrats in the vicinity also underachieve?  I have not seen anyone make the case that VA-2 was particularly affected by the Gay Marriage ban Amendment. The Amendment was not really a factor hurting Democrats in other places in Virginia and VA-2 is not exactly a hot bed of social conservatism.  Afterall, Kellum lived in the conservative half of the district, it was his home base within the district.

          Not saying you are wrong, just want evidence that the Democrats in VA-2 were indeed adversly affected.  James Webb ran strong in VA-2 afterall.

      •  VA-02 Kellam there is my take and (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ca democrat, walja

        that of others who were on the ground, in the Comments section.
        Otherwise, when I update that Diary it will include a voting analysis of the impacts of the Gay Marriage Amendment vote which potentially had a good deal impact in this race.
        The Gop/MSM bashing of the Kerry comment also didn't help us in this heavily Military District.

        The Diary is from Nov.22, not whoring..

        "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Dalai Lama

        by Predictor on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 10:54:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fairfax County is turning into another Montgomery (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pHunbalanced, Predictor, walja

    County. What is also causing the shift from red to blue in the DC suburbs is the fact that a lot of the federal government employs a large share of the workforce. Also you have more minorities moving in. The area is becoming much more diverse.

    Transporation has been a major problem. That's one of the reasons why I will NEVER move to Fairfax County or any of the VA suburbs. Traffic in places like Tysons Corner, McLean, Vienna, Chantilly, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Leesburg, and Manasass is crazy in rush hour.

    I used to work out in the Tysons Corner area. A drive that normally takes 20-30 minutes takes 1 to 1/2 hours during rush hour sometimes. I live in DC and would be commuting against the flow of traffic; yet, when I would drive home, it would be bumper-to-bumper. Tysons Corner is one of the worst places.

    I honestly don't understand the attraction of places like western Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties. Traffic is murderous. Also, if your car breaks down, you are out completely out of luck. The public transportation out that way sucks.

    But the blue trend in Fairfax County is alarming for Republicans in VA. If current trends continue, by the 2012 presidential cycle, and maybe as early as the 2008 cycle (depending on whom the Democrats nominate, VA will be a swing state. On top of that, as the DC suburbs grow, the ballot box lead over Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, SW VA, and the more conservative parts of the state will grow. In the coming redistrict, if northern VA receives more state house of delegates seats, state senate seats, and US House seats, then GOP prospects will diminish.

    Eventually, when they retire, I could easily see Tom Davis and even Frank Wolf's districts flipping to the Democrats. Both districts are turning blue pretty quickly. For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 06:57:51 PM PST

  •  There is a similar trend developing in (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eiron, Predictor, walja

    North Carolina. The Research Triangle and the Charlotte area are starting to shift, but I think N.C. may be about 5-10 years behind VA in that regard. That's my guess anyway.

    I'm originally from about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte and the transformation of the region thus far has been dramatic. Lots of folks from the North moving in and lots of Latinos and Asians too. As a result, Democrats are starting to compete in many areas that they would have written off 10-20 years ago. Larry Kissell in NC-08 is one example of that.

    What I've found in my frequent visits home over the years is that a lot of the people who have moved in from the North might have been, or leaned GOP, back in Ohio or New Jersey, but find they have more in common with N.C. Democrats once they find out just how looney the Southern GOP has become.

    We have a lot of work to do, and a lot of follow through, but I think the trends in N.C. and VA are positive.  

    Credebility is the one thing a person has that no one else can take from them, it has to be given away and once it is gone it can never be regained

    by MadGeorgiaDem on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 08:21:37 PM PST

  •  Does that mean... (0+ / 0-)

    They are going to stop re-electing Jim Moran?

  •  If both the Dem Presidential and VP nominees (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are from the South, Virginia has a very good chance of going Democratic.  Democrats have won the last two gubernatorial elections and, of course, the 2006 Senatorial election.  I agree that Northern Virginia is more like Maryland than Southern Virginia; it's due to the influx of Northern state immigrants.  If Gore's the nominee (I hope he is) or any Southerner, and Mark Warner's the VP nominee, Virginia and its 13 electoral votes are likely to go Democratic.

    "Don Rumsfeld is the finest Secretary of Defense this nation has ever had." -- Evil Robot Cheney

    by FeingoldWarner08 on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 09:39:02 PM PST

  •  Guess Y'all Haven't Heard - - (0+ / 0-)

    About the Episcopal defections this week - -
    These aren't Holy Roller churches either.
    One dates back to the days of George Washington.
    Very upscale, Northern Virginia, WASPy.
    And they choose to affiliate with the Nigerian Anglican Church -
    a country that still permits stoning of women for adultery.
    So there is yet a ways to go.

  •  purple's not enough: 2008 electoral vote? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We still have a lot of work to do to carry the state for a national candidate.  

    Webb performed halfway between Kaine and Kerry in my little county; in the even more Republican county north of us, they worked hard and got him closer to Kaine's performance than Kerry's.  These little slicing-aways meant something with a statewide margin of 9000+.

    But, having grown up here and remembering that the last time Virginia's electoral votes went to a Democrat was the LBJ landslide of 1964, I'm struggling to imagine a Dem presidential candidate carrying the state.

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