Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Virginia Governor's Race and the Two Americas

Map showing the voting in yesterday's Virginia governor's race, won handily by Democrat Ralph Northam. This is an interesting race for several reasons. First, the two men were very similar both in their backgrounds and their policies; my father, a former lobbyist in Richmond and an old hand at state politics, was encouraged that in this year of outrageous national politics Virginia's parties had both nominated serious, experienced men, and he suggested that it really didn't matter much for the state who won. Neither ran a very exciting campaign or committed any terrible blunders; neither had much charisma. Most of the excitement was over issue ads run by outside groups, like one from the Latino Victory Fund that showed a pickup truck flying a Confederate flag running down non-white children. The Republicans tried to shake things up in the last month running ads focusing on immigrant gangs, and promising to defend Confederate statues, but they don't seem to have moved the needle at all. So the voting was really about the party, and the national background.

And what do we see? Northam won big among minorities, immigrants, and white-collar types with college degrees. Zooming in on the DC region, you see that the Democrats won most of the suburbs, even in some very wealthy areas like eastern McLean. Some of the wealthiest districts in the whole country, like western McLean, show up purple; the Republicans couldn't even win convincingly among multi-millionaires. On the other hand the Republicans did win in certain exurban districts with a middle- to working-class white population (the places where the Tea Party has been strong), and in fading factory towns like Strasburg and Front Royal.

Similar situation around Richmond. Upper middle class suburbs where Republicans used to win big are purple, but the white, exurban fringe area around Mechanicsville is strongly red.

In the western parts of the state Trump dominated everywhere except in college towns like Blacksburg, Radford, and Charlottesville – which are actually the only places out there doing well economically.

I read somewhere that Hillary won the counties representing more than 80 percent of the US economy; where people are thriving, Trump's rhetoric falls short. But it resonates in a big way with people resentful of the whole direction the country is taking.

1 comment:

pootrsox said...

A friend whose husband grew up in Honaker, VA-- SW VA and coal country-- said that coal is the sole motivator for voting there. The promise to bring coal back is, if not believed, at least seized on as a life raft.

On the Northern Neck, although my precinct went Dem all the way, the GOP is actually growing stronger. It's the incomers, I'm guessing, who chose our area rather than a more "exclusive" area, to retire from Richmond and DC. These are the people who forced my county to eliminate the boat tax-- so the folks with 40 ft cruisers pay no property tax on their boats, while the poor schnuck driving an old clunker of a car to get to work still has to pay property tax on his vehicle.