John McCain’s presidential campaign is making a play for a new state — Real Virginia.
Northern Virginia, as McCain spokesperson Nancy Pfotenhauer notes, is growing increasingly Democratic. So, too, is the Virginia Beach area, the Richmond-Fredericksburg corridor, and Albemarle County. The rest of the state is heavily Republican, but the demographic trends of the state are brining Democrats in from out of state. Jim Webb’s Senate victory two years ago was in the DC suburbs to Virginia Beach arc, with Richmond, Charlottesville, and other pockets here and there.
Can Barack Obama win the same arc as Senator Webb did? He’s certainly putting the resources into the state, enough so that the McCain campaign has had to resort to some truly slimy negative campaigning. It may depend on turnout, and I think it may be close.
Other southern states are evolving demographically as workers move south. The Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina is a hotbed of Democratic voters — some homegrown, many more New Jersey and New York expats. (At least in terms of social policy. In terms of fiscal policy, Wake County, North Carolina, is seriously taxophobic, to the point where schools have to run year-round simply because there’s no way to fund new school construction.) These areas, as they grow in population and voters, will eventually wield the power at the ballot box.
Maybe this isn’t the year for North Carolina and Virginia to flip to the Democratic column, but at the very least the groundwork is being laid for the eventual change.
If it does happen in either state, it will be close this time around.
And next time around, there may not be a functioning Republican Party.