I’m going to clash with my good friend Not Larry Sabato on this one (sorry Ben).
I like Sandhya Samoshekar but I thought her article on Northern VA and the Deeds campaign was the pits. First of all, it reduces NoVA voters to stereotypes that are deceptive at best. Secondly, it completely ignores the past few election cycles in Virginia. Third, it ignores the driving force behind the economy and politics of Northern Virginia.
Here are the points I take issue with.
1. “NoVA voters won’t support a candidate from rural Virginia.” Really? Because in the primary two months ago, Democratic voters in this area had a clear and obvious choice between the RURAL CANDIDATE and two NORTHERN VIRGINIA CANDIDATES. And Deeds won easily with a campaign that did not hide his country roots.
2. “NoVA voters distrust a candidate that ‘embraces gun rights.’” This statement is so wrong it’s almost farcical. Is the Post aware that Jim Webb and Mark Warner are both “pro-gun” Democrats representing Virginia in the U.S. Congress? And both were easily elected in Northern Virginia in 2006 and 2008, running well ahead of other Democrats? Is the Post aware that “anti-gun” attack ads against Deeds failed miserably in the Democratic primary in June? Is the Post aware that Fairfax County has more concealed carry permits than any other jurisdiction in Virginia? There is no evidence that Democrats with a strong record on Second Amendment issues suffer in northern Virginia.
3. “NoVA voters are highly-educated liberals who listen to NPR and hate country music and NASCAR.” Okay, these are my words. And there is a grain of truth behind every stereotype. But the “MSNBC and Zinfandel” crowd won’t give you 50,000 vote margins in Fairfax County. No they won’t. Because they are a small portion of the County. Let me elaborate …
The white vote in Fairfax County is about evenly split between R’s and D’s. Outside the Beltway, it may trend slight to R’s. That has been pretty consistent year after year. Take it from someone who has knocked about 50,000 doors in Fairfax County.
What has changed the County has been the minority presence all over (save a few select neighborhoods) which has increasingly pushed the margins to Democrats in recent years.
To look at it another way, I grew up in Fairfax City which is right in the heart of NoVA. In my graduating high school class (1986), the students were 90% white. And the City was solidly Republican. In 2009, the graduating class is over 50% black, Asian or Hispanic. And the City is Democratic. Are you getting it now?
The “average” Northern Virginia voter today is an computer engineer born in Bombay and living in Reston or a Central American family living along Route One or a middle-class black family in Dale City or a Korean retail store owner in Burke. You meet them at church, at the grocery store, at the Back to School nights. They’re focused on education for their kids, enough customers for their business and care for their elderly parents. Same issues as everyone else in Virginia.
If you can reach these voters, you win. If you can’t, then you lose.
Leveraging participation from all voters — not just those with season tickets to Wolf Trap — is what wins elections. That is far more important than a perfect score from NARAL or good press on “DailyKos.” That is not what motivates general election voters, not even in northern Virginia.
Again, I’m not just slamming the Post for playing the predictable regional card. Some of us have endured the “Real Virginia” and “Fake Virginia” nonsense for too long now.
There’s a lot more that we share in Virginia than the media wants to admit.