June 11: Geopolitics in Virginia

The starter’s pistol is ready to sound for statewide races in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The race for governor, between Ken Cuccinelli (Republican) and Terry McAuliffe (Democrat), will officially start in earnest after the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 11, where Mr. McAuliffe is running unopposed. However, Democrats will choose candidates for Virginia Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

Less than 4% of registered voters are expected to vote on June 11, and my guess is that the party faithful will back state Senator Ralph Northam for lieutenant governor and Mark Herring for attorney general. However, Aneesh Chopra may have the connections and money to get the lieutenant governor’s nomination.

As the candidates come out of the starting gate, they need to consider the political geography of Virginia. In general, urban areas favor Democrats and rural areas back Republicans. Suburban areas can go either way, and both candidates will focus on Northern Virginia. Why? Reasons include:

-Cuccinelli and McAuliffe are both from Northern Virginia.

-More than 25 percent of Virginia voters reside in Northern Virginia. Fairfax County is the biggest prize with 1.1 million people.

The jigsaw-puzzle-like map below reveals counties and cities favorable to Democratic and Republican candidates, based on six recent statewide elections. The Democratic candidate needs to do well in Northern Virginia, Richmond, and the Norfolk-Newport News areas to offset Republican votes in rural southern and western Virginia. The Republican candidate needs to run up the votes in Virginia Beach and suburban Richmond—and try to take Fairfax County in Northern Virginia.
Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 10.35.00 PM

Author: David Miller

Learned about the wonders of geography while working at National Geographic for some 25 years. Started teaching one class a semester at NOVA in the 1990s but became a dedicated instructor in 2010.

7 thoughts on “June 11: Geopolitics in Virginia”

  1. I think that Fairfax County is the “Key County” that could define this election because has the largest population in Northern Virginia.

  2. I think that the swing areas that are heavily populated are going to be the most important areas of focus for this election. We will see both candidates fight hardest over areas like Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

  3. I also Feel that Fairfax County is a “Key County” it is the largest county in the state. If the republican can get Fairfax County they would be more likely to win.

  4. I think the area closest to Richmond would be a clean sweep.
    because when i look at the map this area is a much bigger section and it also is a tossup area, which means it could go either way.

  5. In my opinion, I believe that Buchanan County, Virginia would be the most crucial county for the Republican party to win over for the election because it is a toss up county surrounding tons of Republican counties.

  6. It is obvious to me that winning Fairfax county creates a great advantage to either party because it would bring in the most votes. It would also be good to capture some of the toss up counties.

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