Ken Cuccinelli , Republican candidate for Virginia governor, debates Terry McAuliffe at a debate sponsored by NBC4 in September. A new analysis says Cuccinelli -- and all social conservatives -- face an uphill battle in Northern Virginia. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)
Northern Virginia is not only growing in population, it's growing in votes -- and that's not good news for Republican Ken Cuccinelli, according to a new analysis published online in the Wall Street Journal Friday.
It also raises a larger question about the future of social conservatives in Virginia, the analysis says.
As part of the "Politics Counts" feature on the Journal's Washington Wire blog, Dante Chinni, head of the American Communities Project at American University, took a look at poll data in 17 counties of Northern Virginia.
The data came from the NBC4/NBCNews/Marist poll, which was conducted twice, in September and October, and found Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a growing lead over Cuccinelli statewide.
But the gap is wider in heavily populated Northern Virginia, where 50 percent of voters polled said they favored McAuliffe, compared to 37 percent who favored Cuccinelli.
Regardless of how this election turns out, the population growth in Northern Virginia suggests that campaigns will only get tougher for social conservatives. Northern Virginia grew by 24 percent between 2000 and 2010, while the rest of the state grew only 8 percent, the article states. Census data estimates since then suggest the difference in growth continues.
And voting data suggests the region leans Democratic; since 2004, Democratic presidential candidates have won NoVa, the analysis says:
"In 2012 President Barack Obama won the state because of Northern Virginia: Mr. Obama carried the region by 205,000 votes while the lost the rest of the state to Republican Mitt Romney by 56,000 votes.
That has enormous meaning in Virginia’s gubernatorial politics where the typical pattern has been that Republicans count on big margins outside of Northern Virginia to propel them to victory."