This is the last part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Virginia, which aims to offer some concluding thoughts. The previous parts can be found starting here.
As a state, Virginia’s population has always been located in three metropolitan areas: the Northern Virginia suburbs south of Washington D.C., Richmond and its suburbs, and the communities surrounding Hampton Roads. Together these three places compose more than half of Virginia’s electorate:
In all three metropolitan areas, Democrats have been improving their margins.
Virginia’s suburbs, expansive and traditionally Republican, have shifted leftwards with startling quickness. This movement has been most apparent in the largest of its suburbs, rich and diverse Northern Virginia. The addition of NoVa to Virginia’s heavily Democratic, heavily black cities has given the Democratic Party a coalition that has won a number of recent elections.
Not everything has gone badly for the Republican Party. They have captured a formerly loyal Democratic constituency – the Appalachian west, which voted Democratic based on economic appeals. Moreover, they still dominate the rural whites who in bygone days voted Democratic:
Thus, Virginia today is a state in change, like most states. Parts of it are shifting left and parts of it are shifting right; in aggregate, the effect has been to change it from a solidly Republican to swing state. Undoubtedly, other states will and are moving in the opposite direction.
Colorado, the next state in this series, is probably not one of those Republican-shifting states.