Virginia was once a solid-red state, known for its strict conservative culture ad its overall affiliation with the Bible Belt south. If anything, it seemed like it would be one of the last states to turn to the secular left. That is, until it voted for Obama in 2008.
Many thought it was just a phase. After all, Indiana, also a solid Republican state, voted for Obama as well. After all, Obama was still socially conservative at the time. The trend however, continued. The Democratic Party went on to win the state in the next two presidential elections, along with the governorship and most other executive positions. In 2019, a second blue wave swept the state, removing Republicans from many local positions and giving the Democrats almost complete control over the state.
Many wonder how such a solid Republican, culturally conservative state located in the south could possibly have flipped so suddenly. Many believe it is the migration of unionized government workers along with Latin American immigrants that caused the shift. Regardless, a recent election has shown that the trend may be reversing.
Staunton is a small city located in the more populous northern region of Virginia. It was a part of the wave that resulting in Barack Obama winning the state in 2008. Since then, it has continued to contribute to the state turning blue.
A recent election, however, seemed to show something different. In a series of local elections, Republicans were able to flip numerous city council seats and regain control over the city council. Although Democrats ultimately received more votes than they did in the previous election, Republican turnout soured to unprecedented levels. A Virginia political analyst, Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Press, had described the results as “stunning almost beyond words.”
These results may suggest that although the Democrats haven’t lost voters to the GOP, many working class whites are being energized to vote for the GOP.
The recent policies enacted by Governor Northam are far from popular among that demographic. Anti-gun measure being pushed by the Democratic government resulted in pro-gun protestors filling the streets. Strict coronavirus lockdowns, similar to those implemented in New York and Michigan, are also angering much working class as well.
Of course, one local election in one small city isn’t enough to determine the political leanings of an entire state. It does, however, raise the question of the Democratic Party’s popularity and the mobilization of the white working class, a demographic that is continuing to become more and more significant despite is reduction in the overall share in the population.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.