Throughout my first blog post, I want to cover a few key items specific to Virginia, namely polling, major and unique issues, and campaign activities. I also thought it might be helpful for me to share my perspective on Virginia, given that I grew up in Northern Virginia myself and now live in Harrisonburg.
Over the past 10 elections (starting from the 1976 election), Virginia has voted Republican up until the 2008 and 2012 elections. It looks like Virginia will take a similar stance during the 2016 election, as shown by Hillary Clinton leading in the polls since October of last year. Although her lead varies from month to month from 2015-2016, Donald Trump has never surpassed her dominance in Virginia. Currently, Clinton has a 5 point lead over Trump in Virginia. According to Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the 13 electoral votes that Virginia holds will most likely lean democratic for the 2016 election.
The two biggest issues for the 2016 election are economy and terrorism. Strangely enough, Democrats and Republicans alike view these two issues as high priority for the election. The difference is that Trump supporters view immigration and foreign policy as important whereas Clinton supporters are more concerned with the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.
As far as campaign activities go, Clinton and Trump are playing their own games in the state of Virginia. As of August 29, 2016, Clinton has 29 campaign offices in Virginia, whereas Trump has only 18. However, the difference between these numbers are that Clinton’s 29 offices are directly campaigning for her, and all of Trump’s 18 offices are actually Republican Party offices. PBS NewsHour claims that the ground game in the 2016 election is as important as ever, and both campaigns differ in their idea of campaigning. Clinton sticks to the traditional rules of grassroots campaigning, similar to how President Obama won both the 2008 and 2012 elections, whereas Trump’s campaign rides on the idea that he doesn’t need to fall into tradition in order to win.
Because Virginia has presented as having two separate “mindsets”, if you will, of the state, its political culture is distinct and has separate unique issues throughout the state. There is a difference in ideological preference and top voting issues between Northern Virginia (NoVA) and, well, the rest of Virginia. According to the Washington Post, voters from NoVA are more concerned with traffic problems, which transfers over to an increased percentage of voters wanting more transportation taxes to fix roads and traffic patterns. NoVA voters also tend to lean more liberal, especially on issues such as the Federal Stimulus Package back in 2009 and abortion remaining legal. Because NoVA is apart of the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) tri-state area, it would make sense that it is the most liberal portion of the state, given from what we know about urban areas usually leaning more to the left than rural areas. With such a high population located in NoVA and the proximity to DC, the taxes are higher, which also help pay for the rest of the state. So this is where the divide lies between NoVA and the rest of Virginia.
As of right now, Virginia is going through the general election, elections for the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Richmond mayoral race. Virginians will also be allowed to vote for amendments to the Virginia Constitution on November 8th, which have to do with the right to work and property exemptions. Although the Virginia Senate races will not be during this cycle, it will be interesting to see how the 2018 Senate races go after we find out the outcome of the general election in November.
To close, I wanted to give my perspective on Virginia as I know it. Growing up in NoVA, I constantly wondered why my dad was complaining about how high the taxes were, or why things like parking, metro fees, and even food were so expensive. This past summer, I went down to Richmond, VA, and found out that things were a bit different. I couldn’t believe that I paid only $5 for a sandwich that in NoVA would cost around $8-10 dollars! It has been interesting to live and visit in different parts of the state, especially Harrisonburg, to see the differences in cost of living and political culture. I look forward to digging deeper into the political differences within my home state.