Diary

Why I Believe Virginia is Trending Blue

My mom and dad were born and raised on the eastern shore of Virginia, and a good part of my family still lives in Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas. In one of my last jobs, I had several clients in Virginia, including such cities as Manassas, Fairfax, Charlottesville, Danville, and Warrenton. All were cities on the nothern side except for Danville, which is down south.
My grandmother still resides in a tiny town located in Accomack County. She works every election, and just turned 84. Always a die-hard Republican, she reminded me of something that happened in the town my parents grew up in that she warned me about with great insight shortly before the 2004 election, which ironically was the last time I ventured over there. (I know, I’m a HORRIBLE grandson!)
The name of the city, Wachapreague (try saying it five times fast) is your typical small, SMALL town. As of the 2000 census, a mere 236 people was the population. If you’re not too familiar with Virginia geography, the eastern shore is a strip of land you don’t see on most maps; it’s actually located below Maryland. Wachapreague itself is right by the ocean; I can literally walk out of my grandmother’s house, make a left turn, and in about five blocks, I can jump in from the docks.
When I last visited, I was in shock. A lot of the older homes, and even a lot of abandoned homes were rebuilt. Even the house my mom grew up in looked brand new. When I asked my garndmother what happened, she said that people are buying the houses, fixing them up, and either moving here or renting them out because of the close proximity to the ocean. As a result, the local economy has been better off a little bit, but property taxes have risen since all of the housing activity in the area.
I then asked her who was buying all of these houses. “People from up northeast.” People from New York, New Jersey, even as far north as Maine were buying these homes. At frist, most of them were staying there for a short time, then renting them out. Now it appears most are staying and have moved there. This was in August of 2004. Being the political-savvy person that she is, she said, “you just watch now. This could possibly turn this county from red to blue four years from now.”
I called her last week. We love to talk politics, and every time I talk to her, I always ask about her reaction to the LBJ/Barry Goldwater/nuclear bomob commercial. That’s the only time this sweet lady gets really sour. She told me that there are a ton of houses in her neighborhood that have Obama signs in their yards. “Not very many McCain signs at all”, she says.
The trend, I believe, is hitting other parts of Virginia as well. I worked with a hospital in Warrenton, which is in Fauquier county. I biult up a very good relationship with the radiology manager there, and she was even remarking at the housing boom. She mentioned to me that what used to be “horse country” was now turning into suburbia. She said there were a lot of people who were buying homes in the area that were commuting all the way to Washington DC and were willing to sacrifice the gas money to not live in the big city.
See where I’m going with this?
Of course, I’m here in Nebraska, but I’ve been hearing about this housing boom (which has probably subsided a bit) in Virginia for the past three or four years. It appears that most counties in the south and west will remain relatively stable, but counties on the eastern side of the state, especially the coastal side, could see a tilt because of the northeasterners buying up property and staying there. Accomack County, for example, was carried by President Bush with a margin of around 2200 votes, or 17%. The neighboring county to the south, Northampton, was carried by John Kerry, but only by around 100 votes, or 3%. I would expect Northampton to be a larger margin for Obama, and Accomack County will be more competitive this year than in years’ past.
This is my theory by talking with some people on the ground there. Other locations like Richmond and Charlottesville went to Kerry four years ago, and will probably lean towards Obama in greater numbers.
To make a long story short (too late, I know) you’ve seen people moving into Virginia, which I used to hear was a good thing for Republicans, but it seems that most people coming in are liberal Democrats or left-leaning voters that maybe lean towards Obama. Bush carried Virginia as a state by nine points in 2004, and I don’t think a lead like that evaporates in one election cycle just because the sitting president is unpopular. This is a trend that has probably been taking place since 2000, maybe sooner.
Once again, I’m still in Nebraska, but these are my obersvations. Virginia residents here on Redstate, let me know if I’m on target or completely out of the ballpark here.