Where Does Obama’s Strength in Virginia Come From?

In a number of posts I have pointed out how difficult it is for Mitt Romney to crack the Northern Virginia stranglehold Democrats and Obama have on Virginia’s most populous region. One of the best was a study on the voting trends of Fairfax County — Virginia’s most populous — demonstrating that since 1980 the Democrat % of vote has essentially doubled from 30.76% to 60.12% over the last 30 years.  This change in voting is directly and causally correlated with the steady bipartisan increase in size of government over that period.  Whether it be Reagan’s Defense build up, the folly of Clinton’s “era of Big Government is over” when it only grew (the economy simply grew faster), or George Bush overseeing the largest expansion in federal government since LBJ’s “Great Society”. The only thing Barack Obama did was take each of those expansions and accelerate them to ludicrous and unsustainable levels.

What does all of this have to do with populous and growing Northern Virginia and its lock on the Democrat vote?  The New York Times Ross Douthat inadvertently lays out the reason which is the end result of a 30+ year expansion of the federal government where America is taxed more heavily while the imperial city of Washington reaps the benefits:

WHEN I moved to Washington, D.C., in 2002, you could sense that the nation’s capital had turned a corner after decades of decline. But the Washington of 10 years ago still looked basically like the city that had been scarred by riots in the 1960s and then emptied by white flight, with a prosperous northwest divided from a blighted south and east, and frontiers of gentrification that weren’t that many blocks from the Capitol itself.

No doubt there were boomtowns in the 19th-century Wild West that changed faster than D.C. did over the ensuing decade. But the changes to Washington have been staggering to watch. High-rises have leaped up, office buildings have risen, neighborhoods have been transformed. Streets once deserted after dusk are now crowded with restaurants and bars. A luxurious waterfront area is taking shape around the stadium that the playoff-bound Nationals call home. Million-dollar listings abound in neighborhoods that 10 years ago were transitional at best.

Now the Northern Virginia succor:

Cross the bridges into Virginia or shoot north into Maryland, and you’ll find concentrations of wealth greater than in the richest counties around New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco. Last week, new census data revealed that 7 of the 10 richest American counties in 2011 were in the Washington, D.C., region. Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington Counties, all in Northern Virginia, have higher median incomes than every other county in the United States.

Whence comes this wealth? Mostly from Washington’s one major industry: the federal government. Not from direct federal employment, which has risen only modestly of late, but from the growing armies of lobbyists and lawyers, contractors and consultants, who make their living advising and influencing and facilitating the public sector’s work.

How did each one of these counties vote in the last election?

  • Fairfax County:  Obama: 60%, McCain 39%
  • Loudoun County: Obama 54%, McCain 46%
  • Arlington County: Obama 72%, McCain 27%

Nearly every one of these votes is bought and paid for with the public’s tax dollars through transfer payments from the country’s pockets into their employment.  The reason the Washington crowd goes to such great lengths to demean and dismiss the Tea Party is because their message of small government and reduced Federal spending puts most of these people out of their cushy, lucrative, every year get-a-raise, retire at 55 with a full pension jobs.  This is much the same reason Ohio –a 50/50 state — is stubbornly favoring Obama thanks to the nefarious actions in the bankruptcy proceedings of the auto companies. Even without Obama the auto companies would have emerged nicely from bankruptcy, only they would have been healthier companies and without the illegal transfer payments to the auto unions. He does the same thing for Northern Virginia through the unprecedented expansion of government, only this time it’s legal.  Douthat closes thusly:

In reality, our government isn’t running trillion-dollar deficits because we’re letting the working class get away with not paying its fair share. We’re running those deficits because too many powerful interest groups have a stake in making sure the party doesn’t stop. When you look around the richest precincts of today’s Washington, you don’t see a city running on paternalism or dependency. You see a city running on exploitation.


  1. Tim
    Posted September 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good point. Virginia and Ohio concern me.

  2. ed
    Posted September 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    If just ran into a site http://unskewedpolls.com/ . Keith please check it out is it legit?

    • Posted September 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’ve briefly looked at that site before and it doesn’t look accurate. I think the guy just plugs the polls into his model and spits out the results. He doesn’t provide any backup or explanations for his adjustments so I wouldn’t put too much stock in it. Romney may eventually win by those levels but right now the race is fairly even.

  3. Tim
    Posted September 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I looked at as well and I think he uses R+4.3 and adjust this as party I’d

  4. Timothy
    Posted September 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m predicting a Romney +3 win in Virginia. He’ll need huge (huge!) margins in western and southwestern Virgina on the order of 70/30 at worst. He’ll need to keep Va Beach in play as well and win it by more margin that McCain did, which McCain barely held onto Va. Beach by 1%. As you’ve blogged about, Henrico county will be the one county I’ll watch early on election night.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] size: 8k and between 10-15k but either way this is a great crowd in the Battleground hotbed of Loudoun County on a 55 degree Wednesday […]

  2. […] size: 8k and between 10-15k but either way this is a great crowd in the Battleground hotbed of Loudoun County on a 55 degree Wednesday […]

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