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Sticking a Thermometer in the Rectum of the Political Climate in Virginia.

October 18, 2008

As a lifelong moderate Democrat, it’s been a little tough living in Virginia for the past ten years.  In the two presidential elections I’ve voted in as a resident of the Commonwealth, I pulled the lever knowing full well that Virginia was a deeply red (almost maroon) state.  Al Gore barely campaigned here, and John Kerry pretty much gave up by August.  Our airwaves were essentially ad-free.

Watercooler discussions of politics invariably were Republican territory.  Democrats were essentially forced to hold their tongues, in fear — that’s right, fear — of being labeled “un-American.”  The culture of division that the Rove campaigns excel at were in full force in Virginia.  In the rural areas, the Republicans dominated in the same way they do in the midwest and deep south.  And in Northern Virginia, with so much of the economy based on defense contracts, the conventional wisdom was that a Democrat would eliminate jobs and cripple the industry.

But something happened in the late 1990’s and early-2000’s.  Northern Virginia became one of the hubs of the “dot-com boom.”  The climate and culture of the area began a shift in demographics.  College graduates and young IT professionals from all over the country migrated to areas like Arlington, Fairfax, and the Dulles Corridor.  They brought with them a markedly different mindset than the traditional “Beltway Bandit” defense contractors that had dominated the area.  Northern Virginia started to feel a lot more like Silicon Valley.

And as the dot-com bubble inevitably burst, this influx of young professionals stuck around.  They bought homes in Northern Virginia.  They started families.  Moved out to the suburbs.  Started sprawling out to areas like Loudon, Prince William, Faquier, and Stafford counties… areas that used to be considered “rural Virginia,” but have since started to take on the appearance and culture of the areas up north.

So now what the state that has traditionally been the reddest of reds is now a nice shade of purple.  Driving through neighborhoods, McCain/Palin signs still outnumber Obama/Biden signs by a pretty good margin, but I’m not sure how accurate a gauge that is in terms of support.

See, I don’t have an Obama/Biden sign in my yard either, but being the tech-savvy geek that I am, I choose to show my support in other, less obvious ways — like this little blog.

And I think other tech-savvy geeks around the state are doing the same kind of thing.  Which is why I think Virginia may end up in the blue come November 4th.

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