Blue Virginia?

Political analysts may be holding their breath this fall, but it’s Virginia that’s turning blue.

So says an expert on demographic trends in the Commonwealth.

Dustin Cable works at the Weldon Cooper Center, where social scientists study population trends in Virginia.  He’s especially interested in partisan politics and sees two things that suggest the Commonwealth may be turning into a blue state.

“We’re looking at growing diversity and growth in Northern Virginia.”

Northern Virginians tend to vote for Democrats in presidential elections.  So do Asians and Hispanics living there and in other urban areas – like Richmond, Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads.

“The share of eligible voters is expected to increase by minorities even from two years ago. In a close race, that could make the difference.”

Cable says Democrats have made gradual gains here, and President Obama’s victory in 2008 was impressive, with blacks and young voters turning out in record numbers.

“So if Obama – and this is a big if – if he can match those turn out rate this November, he’s looking pretty good in Virginia, and he can probably increase his margins in Virginia. That’s not likely going to happen though.  We’re going to probably see turn out levels between what we saw in 2004 and 2008.”

The study says Mitt Romney has a more reliable base – white men, affluent voters and the elderly, who can be counted on to show up and vote.  The population of people over sixty is growing in Virginia, but Cable adds, Romney will need to make inroads with some Hispanics and college-educated voters in Northern Virginia if he wants to carry the state in November.

-by Sandy Hausman

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