Elections in the new Virginia

On November 6, voters in the key battleground state of Virginia formed extremely long lines and in some cases waited for hours to vote.

When the dust settled late Tuesday night, the Democrats emerged victorious, although by smaller margins than in 2008. President Obama defeated Mitt Romney by a margin of

50.8 percent to 47.8. At the same time, former governor Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Jim Webb, defeated former Governor and Senator George Allen, Republican, by a margin of 52.4 percent to 47.6.              .

There were no changes in the 11-member Virginia House delegation. All three sitting Democratic federal representatives (Gerry Connelly and Jim Moran from Northern Virginia, and Bobby Scott from the Richmond and Norfolk areas) were handily reelected, in Scott's case with more than 80 percent of the vote.

The Democratic victories were rung up in Northern Virginia and in the Southeast, as well as in some other enclaves such as Danville on the North Carolina-Virginia border. African-American, Latino and Asian votes were crucial to the Democratic victory, as were the votes of residents of the Washington D.C. suburbs. The Republican strength was in the exurban and rural areas and the economically distressed, mostly-white Appalachian spine which forms Virginia's northwestern border.

The Republicans emphasized jobs, and attacked the Democrats for supporting environmental causes, hoping thus to get votes in mining districts. They also raised fears about the "sequestration" issue, which may affect Virginia particularly because of the dependence for jobs and economic development of several areas in the state on the military. This is especially true for the Norfolk-Newport News-Hampton-Portsmouth area in the Southeastern part of the state, with its navy base and naval shipyards. However all of this, backed by the money of the energy industries, did not suffice.

The only negative note was that a deceptively worded ballot issue which will help some businesses to pick the pockets of taxpayers also passed. The question was phrased as stopping local governments from taking over small businesses and handing them over to private companies with the justification that this will engender better economic development. Democrats pointed out that such property seizures are already prohibited in Virginia, but that the fine print of the ballot initiative requires that businesses whose properties are taken or affected by public works projects be compensated for vaguely defined future business losses. This item may turn out to be unconstitutional, because it makes an invidious distinction between profit making business properties and, for example, simple private homes.

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