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