Home 2012 races FiveThirtyEight Takes a Look at the Commonwealth

FiveThirtyEight Takes a Look at the Commonwealth


FiveThirtyEight put up its analysis of Virginia tonight in a piece entitled, In Virginia, It’s Tradition versus Change .

I’m not sure there is much in there that any regular reader of this blog doesn’t know already — basically, NOVA is growing, the Richmond area is competitive, the urban areas are more Democratic, and the rural areas are solid red. Presidential elections are won and lost in NOVA, while depressed turnout in off years favors the GOP.

Still, the entire piece is worth a read.

I did think there were two interesting items, however.

First, according to the article Montgomery County in SW Virginia, where Virginia Tech is located, is something of a bellweather (are you listening, Kathy?

Montgomery County has been an almost perfect barometer of Virginia’s statewide political orientation. Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, is Montgomery County’s stand-in for left-leaning Northern Virginia, while the area around the university is more Old Virginia, Mr. Skelley said.

In the past three presidential elections, Montgomery County has never been more than one percentage point off of the statewide vote shares of the two parties.

Second, the observation that the state is at an ideological tipping point. I’m not quite sure I get the same sense of this, but I’ll let Fivethirtyeight’s data speak to it:

Virginia’s political balance has shifted far enough left that it is now very close to a tipping point. In fact, it has the smallest Republican lean, 1.9 percentage points, of any state in FiveThirtyEight’s Presidential Voting Index. North Carolina, by contrast, is almost eight percentage points to the right of the national average.

Presumably, this means that should current demographic trends continue, we could become more reliably blue over the coming years.

Whatever happens on Tuesday, 2013 should be very interesting.