See 2012 Battleground States for brief analyses of a dozen key states in the 2012 elections, and predictions as to who could win those states.
How Virginia Votes: Red State or Blue State?
In the past forty years, Virginians have voted for only one Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama.
However, in 2008, Obama won 53% of Virginia votes, including 92% of votes cast by African-Americans, who, per the 2010 census, comprise 20% of all Virginia residents. During the ten years from 2000 to 2010, Virginia's African-American population increased 11.6%.
In 2008, Obama also won 60% of all ballots cast in Virginia by voters under 30 year old, a group that comprises 22% of all state residents.
In the last four presidential elections, Virginia voted as follows:
- 2008 - 53% for Democrat Obama, 46% for Republican McCain
- 2004 - 54% for Republican Bush, 46% for Democrat Kerry
- 2000 - 53% for Republican Bush, 44% for Democrat Gore
- 1996 - 47% for Republican Dole, 45% for Democrat Clinton, 8% for Other
Summary of Top Issues in Virginia
Education is a top political issue in Virginia, with Democrats livid over Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's plan to divert $110 million in state sales tax revenues away from public schools to use in road maintenance.
The federal No Child Left Behind mandate for education has generally been judged a failure in the Old Dominion State, where "sixty-two percent of Virginia’s public schools fell short of testing goals in math and reading, compared with 39 percent the year before, according to results released Thursday. All but four of the state’s 132 school divisions, including all of those in Northern Virginia, also failed," per the Washington Post.
Because of the state's close proximity to the bustling Washington D.C. employment market, Virginia enjoys a low unemployment rate of about 6% and a low poverty rate in comparison to other states.
Republican threats to slash Social Security and Medicare benefits are not major issues since senior citizens comprise only 12.2% of the state's population, which ranks 43rd among all states.
Virginia Economic Facts and Voter Demographics
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - Very low at 6%, which is well below the national average, and ranks 41st among states.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - Foreclosure rate of 1 in 887 homes, below the national median rate of 1 of 583 homes, and ranks 22nd among states.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - 10.2% of Virginia households, which ranks 39th among all states.
Senior Citizen Population - 12.2% of Virginians are over 65 years old, which ranks 43rd among all states, making Virginia one of nation's youngest populations.
Women as a Percentage of Virginia's Population - 50.9% of all Virginians are women, which ranks 20th among all states.
African-American Population - 20% of Virginians are African-Americans, one of the highest percentage (9th) of state populations in the nation.
Hispanic Population - Only 7.9% of Virginia residents are Hispanic, which ranks 27th among all state, and far, far behind the large Hispanic populations of western states as New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California and Texas.
Labor Union Membership - Virginia boasts less than 200,000 labor unions members. Labor unions are not a major political influence in the state.