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How Northern Virginia turned blue and could give Clinton a victory

How Northern Virginia turned blue and could give Clinton a victory

Counties and towns near Washington, DC, have grown more blue with the arrival of young professionals who tend to lean Democrat.

For a long time, Virginia was synonymous with Republicans. Until Barack Obama's victory there in 2008, the GOP won the state for 40 consecutive years. For more than 10 presidential elections, Virginia was a comfortable Republican bastion.

WINNER’S VOTE MARGIN

1992

H.W. Bush

45.0%

+111,867

VA

Clinton

40.6%

1996

Dole

47.1%

+47,290

VA

Clinton

45.1%

2000

W. Bush

52.5%

+220,200

VA

Gore

44.4%

2004

W. Bush

53.7%

+262,217

VA

Kerry

45.5%

2008

52.6%

Obama

+234,527

VA

McCain

46.3%

2012

Obama

51.1%

+149,298

VA

Romney

47.2%

WINNER’S VOTE MARGIN

1992

H.W. Bush

45.0%

+111,867

VA

Clinton

40.6%

1996

Dole

47.1%

+47,290

VA

Clinton

45.1%

2000

W. Bush

52.5%

+220,200

VA

Gore

44.4%

2004

W. Bush

53.7%

+262,217

VA

Kerry

45.5%

2008

52.6%

Obama

+234,527

VA

McCain

46.3%

2012

Obama

51.1%

+149,298

VA

Romney

47.2%

VA

VA

VA

1992

1996

2000

+111,867

+47,290

+220,200

WINNER’S VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S VOTE MARGIN

H.W. Bush

Clinton

Dole

Clinton

W. Bush

Gore

45.0%

40.6%

47.1%

45.1%

52.5%

44.4%

VA

VA

VA

2004

2008

2012

+262,217

+234,527

+149,298

WINNER’S VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S VOTE MARGIN

W. Bush

Kerry

Obama

McCain

Obama

Romney

53.7%

45.5%

52.6%

46.3%

51.1%

47.2%

VA

VA

VA

VA

VA

VA

2004

2008

2012

1992

1996

2000

+111,867

+47,290

+220,200

+262,217

+234,527

+149,298

WINNER’S

VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S

VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S

VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S

VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S

VOTE MARGIN

WINNER’S

VOTE MARGIN

H.W. Bush

Clinton

Dole

Clinton

W. Bush

Gore

W. Bush

Kerry

Obama

McCain

Obama

Romney

45.0%

40.6%

47.1%

45.1%

52.5%

44.4%

53.7%

45.5%

52.6%

46.3%

51.1%

47.2%

But the Democratic Party has been gaining ground in Virginia, especially in the northern part of the state, close to Washington, DC.

INSET MAP

MARYLAND

VIRGINIA

VIRGINIA

Fairfax

Loudoun

Arlington

Washington

DC

Prince

Williams

Alexandria

Manassas

City

VA

MD

VA

MD

DC

DC

1996

2000

VA

MD

The Democrats won Fairfax for the first time in 40 years.

DC

2004

VA

VA

MD

MD

DC

DC

2012

2008

Since 2004 the Democratic vote has expanded in a concentric fashion.

MARYLAND

VIRGINIA

VIRGINIA

Fairfax

Loudoun

Arlington

Washington

DC

Prince

Williams

Manassas

City

Alexandria

VA

MD

VA

MD

DC

DC

1996

2000

VA

MD

The Democrats won Fairfax for the first time in 40 years.

DC

2004

VA

MD

VA

MD

DC

DC

2012

2008

Since 2004 the Democratic vote has expanded in a concentric fashion.

MARYLAND

VIRGINIA

Fairfax

INSET MAP

Loudoun

Arlington

Washington

DC

Prince

Williams

VIRGINIA

Manassas

City

Alexandria

MD

MD

MD

VA

VA

VA

DC

DC

DC

1992

1996

2000

The Democrats won Fairfax for the first time in 40 years.

VA

MD

VA

MD

MD

VA

DC

DC

DC

2004

2008

2012

Since 2004 the Democratic vote has expanded in a concentric fashion.

MD

MD

VA

VA

INSET

MAP

VIRGINIA

DC

DC

1992

1996

MARYLAND

VIRGINIA

The Democrats won Fairfax for the first time in 40 years.

Fairfax

MD

MD

VA

VA

Loudoun

Arlington

Washington

DC

DC

Prince

Williams

2000

2004

DC

Manassas

City

Alexandria

VA

MD

VA

MD

DC

DC

Since 2004 the Democratic vote has expanded in a concentric fashion.

2008

2012

Lee esta nota en español

MANY VOTERS LIVE IN THE STATE'S NORTHERN REGION

With the loss of Northern Virginia, the Republican Party has lost strength in a region with a big chunk of the state's voters. Data from the 2014 census show that the bulk of Virginia voters live in the north. Counties and towns in these areas – highlighted in black in the map below – are home to nearly 1.5 million voters, or about 25 percent of the state's total. They live primarily in Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince Williams Counties, which together registered nearly 300,000 new voters since 2000.

Eligible voters

(Citizens age 18 and older, 2014)

10,000

100,000

50,000

200,000

300,000

Voter concentration (25%)

Loudoun

204,450

Fairfax

701,040

Richmond

162,130

Virginia Beach

327,370

Total eligible voters

5,877,505

Hispanics

(4.4%)

256,160

Eligible voters

(Citizens age 18 and older, 2014)

10,000

50,000

100,000

200,000

300,000

Voter concentration (25%)

Loudoun

204,450

Fairfax

701,040

Bedford

327,370

Richmond

162,130

Virginia Beach

327,370

Total eligible voters

5,877,505

Hispanics

(4.4%)

256,160

Eligible voters

(Citizens age 18 and older, 2014)

Voter

concentration

(25%)

Loudoun

204,450

10,000

50,000

100,000

200,000

300,000

Fairfax

701,040

Total eligible voters

5,877,505

Prince Williams

264,405

Hispanics

(4.4%)

256,160

Bedford

327,370

Virginia Beach

327,370

Richmond

162,130

Eligible voters

Voter

concentration

(25%)

(Citizens age 18 and older, 2014)

Loudoun

204,450

10,000

50,000

100,000

200,000

300,000

Fairfax

701,040

Rockingham

57,225

Total eligible voters

5,877,505

Prince Williams

264,405

Hispanics

(4.4%)

256,160

Bedford

327,370

Chesterfield

230,815

Richmond

162,130

Virginia Beach

327,370

Has Virginia become a Democratic state? Not for now, although it's no longer the GOP redoubt it was for so many decades.

“It's not the capital of the South anymore,” said Gary Nordlinger, a professor at George Washington University. He said Virginia is now a “purple” state, with Democrats and Republicans in nearly equal numbers. Jeremy Mayer, a professor at George Mason University, agreed but added that for now the Democrats appear to have an advantage, with polls showing Hillary Clinton winning the state in November.

PRESIDENTIAL POLLS IN VIRGINIA
Updated:
Clinton
Trump
Vote intention calculated by HuffPost Pollster using results from the latest national polls.

Demographic changes can help explain the political shift. Mayer noted that Northern Virginia has had one of the most prosperous economies in the U.S. over the past three decades. The region has benefited from its proximity to the capital, lower taxes and its ability to attract federal funds, which soared from $1.7 billion in 1980 to $38.5 billion in 2009, according to a study by George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller.

The economic boom has attracted many young, highly educated professionals in their 20s and 30s who work in technology and government and tend to lean Democrat, said Nordlinger. The region has also become increasingly diverse with the arrival of more minorities, especially Hispanics and Asians.

The high rents in Washington, DC, also may have pushed professionals to look for homes in adjoining Virginia counties. More than 100,000 people commute every day from Fairfax, Virginia's largest county, to work in Washington, according to official figures from 2013.

Median rental price per bedroom

Washington DC

Arlington

FAIRFAX

Alexandria

Source: Trulia

Four Metro lines and several highways connect DC to Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria in Viriginia.

Washington DC

Arlington

FAIRFAX

Alexandria

10 km

5 mi

Googlemaps

Median rental price per bedroom

Washington DC

Arlington

FAIRFAX

Alexandria

Source: Trulia

Four Metro lines and several highways connect DC to Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria in Viriginia.

Washington DC

Arlington

FAIRFAX

Alexandria

10 km

5 mi

Googlemaps

Four Metro lines and several highways connect DC to Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria in Viriginia.

Median rental price per bedroom

Washington DC

Washington DC

Arlington

Arlington

FAIRFAX

FAIRFAX

Alexandria

10 km

Alexandria

5 mi

Source: Trulia

Googlemaps

Median rental price per bedroom

Four Metro lines and several highways connect DC to Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria in Viriginia.

Washington DC

Washington DC

Arlington

Arlington

FAIRFAX

FAIRFAX

Alexandria

10 km

Alexandria

5 mi

Source: Trulia

Googlemaps

Mayer said there's a second factor that helps explain Donald Trump's apparent electoral trouble in Virginia.

The GOP "swung too far to the right” in the 1990s, he said. “The Republican Party that performed well in Virginia was the Republican Party of Senator John Warner, who by today's standards would be a moderate Republican," he added.

Today, the most visible Trump supporter in Virginia is Corey Stewart, the at-large chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. He's well known for his hardline stance on undocumented immigrants and support for immigration reforms that target Hispanics, said Mayer.

Javier Figueroa contributed to this report.

SOURCES: Census Bureau, Social Explorer, Virginia Department of Elections.

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