26th Senate District Rundown
In the post, Ben points to Allen and Kilgore margins being almost identical in Warren and Shenandoah Counties as being reasons this district was one of the few that Webb got a higher % in than Kaine. He points to growth of NOVA commuters as perhaps one of the reasons why.
Essentially I can explain the voting trends in every locale here pretty easily. First off is Harrisonburg city. Like most cities, it is getting more democratic as the more likely GOP voters move into the suburbs. With several high-end subdivisons being built right on the outskirts of HBurg city limits, we are seeing somewhat the same thing happen here. The population that is replacing those GOP voters are mostly hispanic and college students, who don't vote GOP nearly as often as business people and professionals.
This leads to Rockingham County. As those GOP leaning voters move to county, we will probably see Rockingham continue to vote overwhelmingly GOP (Bush got 74.4% in 2004). There really isn't a tremendous amount of growth here yet, other than the city's push and maybe some in Massanutten (which probably leans more dem). The other offset is the rural areas are becoming more and more GOP every cycle in America, and that trend will exist here as well (although less magnitude since its already so GOP anyway).
Next comes Shenandoah County. As precinct data shows, Allen ran behind Kilgore the farther north you go. This is probably due to the influx of NOVA commuters to the Strasburg area. Allen actually ran ahead of Kilgore in the southern part of the county, but lost most of it in the northern part. This follows the trend of the overall suburban vote which I will discuss later.
Warren County has the same effect, only their entire county is basically evenly divided on commuter growth. The rural areas saw a small rise for Allen from Kilgore, but was all but erased in the faster growing areas of the county. Same reasons probably apply here.
Rappahannock County was the lone locale won by Jim Webb in the district. This is largely a trend that will continue due to the county enforcing an ordinance 25 acres to build a house on. It is becoming a super rich area and retirement community for NOVAians, who are voting dem. Even so, growth is basically non-existant here and the county has only 7300 residents which will make it very tough for this area to make much difference going forward.
The last locale is Page County. This county has the dynamics of just about every locale in the district. Its northern end is seeing growth in NOVA retirees and is beginning to trend dem. Conversely, the southern end has become an exurb of Harrisonburg and Charlottesville and is trending mostly GOP. Since growth is still relatively light here, the numbers have not shifted much and maybe not for some time until growth picks up.
Overall the district is still very Republican and probably will stay that way for quite some time. Even so, some of the things we are seeing in my district effect Virginia politics as a whole. I will take a look at that within the next day or so.