The Old Dominion may be exchanging their red banner for a purple flag in November. Virginia has voted almost exclusively Republican in previous elections, but it appears that this trend is changing. In 2008, Virginia broke tradition and voted for Obama, much to the surprise of the McCain campaign. According to recent polls, it appears that 2008 was an indication of a changing political spectrum rather than an anomaly.
Chris LaCivita, a Republican strategist, claims that the shift can be attributed to demographics:
“Over the years, the migration, if you will, there has been a lot of demographic changes in the Commonwealth. That growth has brought in a lot of new voters and a lot of new people.”
In the last ten years, Virginia has experienced a large fluctuation in Hispanic and single female voters – two demographics that strongly side with president Obama and the Democratic platform. However, the state has not completely shifted left yet. Despite Obama’s success in 2008, Virginia returned to their roots in 2009 when they voted a Republican governor into office.
Recent public polls show Romney behind Obama by nine points. However, Republicans claim that the poll the Democrats are citing as proof of Virginia’s changing ways are flawed, and not a true indication of Virginian voters. The polls specifically targeted and oversampled Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008 based on exit poll statistics.
Despite Republican claims of foul play among polling statistics, Romney has spent a hefty amount of time and money campaigning in Virginia. He has released a number of ads, made more than a few campaign stops in the Old Dominion state, and even announced his VP pick in Virginia in hopes of rallying Republican voters.
LaCivita believes that affiliated voters are not the base to target in Virginia:
“No one political party dominates, it’s always been a battle about independents, but the independents are just as much in play. The political persuasions of large swaths of voters are frankly unknown.”
Virginia’s changing political spectrum may be just the opportunity an independent candidate would need to gain a strong foothold. With campaign ads tearing their opponents apart, a third party should campaign focusing on the issues, since VA voters obviously vote based on the individual, not along party lines.
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If the demographic really has shifted left, then appealing to moderates or independents might not be as effective. However, what else can the GOP do to gain ground in Virginia? Maybe the GOP should look into less negative ads and use an appeal to reason. Moderates/independents/undecided voters are probably not moved by oversimplified, dramatic, 30 second TV ads and slogans.
Virginia is definitely a good political landscape for voters who care about the issues more than they do partisan differences.
It appears that certain demographics are moving left and becoming more numerous. A lot of federal employees, single women, and Hispanics are pouring into the area and voting Democratic (at least in terms of the presidency). However, it appears that most voters in VA are more concerned with individual issues rather than voting along party lines.