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  Talk Elections
  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion
  U.S. Presidential Election Results
  2012 U.S. Presidential Election Results (Moderators: Torie, ON Progressive)
  NoVA vs Montgomery County, MD
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Author Topic: NoVA vs Montgomery County, MD  (Read 4313 times)
Progressive Realist
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« on: November 12, 2012, 05:49:04 pm »

Montgomery County, Maryland voted for Obama, 71-27.

Contrast this with Fairfax County, VA, which voted for Obama 59-40; Prince William County, VA, which voted for Obama 57-41; and Loudoun County, VA, which voted for Obama 52-47.

Why were the NoVA counties significantly closer in results than Montgomery County, MD? The high income levels, racial distribution, and high educational levels are comparable between them. Both areas are suburban parts of the D.C. metro that have grown fast in recent years.

Something must account for Montgomery County's more strong pro-Obama margin. Maybe it's economic? (perhaps more public sector workers in Montgomery County vs NoVA's huge defense-industrial sector)?

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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2012, 05:56:33 pm »

NOVA is wealthier. Also, different sorts of people choose to live in Virginia than in Maryland, in part for political reasons (especially when many of them work in politics). There's also much better public transportation to DC in MontCo than in NOVA (but compare Arlington to MontCo).

The factors you identified also contribute.
Lief 🐋
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2012, 06:04:33 pm »
« Edited: November 12, 2012, 06:08:07 pm by Lief »

Maybe it's economic? (perhaps more public sector workers in Montgomery County vs NoVA's huge defense-industrial sector)?

That's what I would guess.

There's also probably some amount of self-selection, with liberals deciding to commute to work from the blue state and conservatives deciding to do so from the redder state. The two areas definitely feel different, from my experience driving through both occasionally when I lived in DC. NoVA is much more suburban: lots of big highways, long stretches of road, not many trees, big giant newly built houses, people drive a lot more. Montgomery County has some of that as well, especially the further you get from DC, but when you first drive across the border it doesn't feel that different from Northwest DC. It's still relatively urban, the houses are older (and smaller), there are a lot more trees, the streets are smaller, people take more public transportation.

MontCo is also less white than Northern Virginia I'm pretty sure.
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2012, 06:53:36 pm »
« Edited: November 12, 2012, 07:00:35 pm by pa2011 »

For the longest time, if you were a Democrat and wanted suburban living in DC, you choose to live in Maryland, in part due to the state's progressive reputation.

If you were a Republican and wanted to live in suburbs, you chose Virginia, in part due to the state's conservative reputation and low tax rate. Virginia also attracted more members of the military/Pentagon, etc, while Montgomery  attracted immigrants long before Virginia did.

Now, however, demographics have caugth up with Fairfax. Also, Fairfax is arguably close to an outer suburb since both Arlington and Alexandria -- both heavily Democratic - are an easier commute to DC. Montogomery is an inner suburb. So in some ways better to compare Montgomery to Arlington than it is to Fairfax.

Fairfax was pretty solidly GOP until 2004, when Kerry won it. So fact 60 percent is now already  routine for Democratic candidates -- at least Obama and Warner/Kaine/Webb in statewide races - shows you how fast Fairfax is trending Democratic.

Don't think Fairfax will ever be as Democratic as Montgomery, but think eventually 65 percent  for statewide Democratic candidates will be attainable.  But still think a moderate GOP presidential candidate -- like Christie - could perhaps still keep the county competitive again in presidential elections.
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2012, 07:38:51 pm »

It's a mix of things, as others have said.

A lot of it is the military-industrial complex in Virginia vs more tech and healthcare based economy in Maryland. The federal government probably supports (directly or indirectly) at least as high if not a higher percentage of people in NoVA, but there is a huge difference. Not only do those industries attract different types of people, the military industry has a much higher percentage of employees who work for private companies that contract with and depend on the government (the "industrial" part of military-industrial complex") vs actual public workers. So these workers generally have an incentive to support cutting government spending in other areas to pay for defense spending and vote for the party that promises that. Whereas public employees are more likely to oppose spending cuts in general.

Some of it has to do with the fact that the suburbs in Maryland have invested more in public transit and are much "closer" to DC and more attractive to people who want a house with a yard but still want to be able to walk places. A house that's ten miles from DC in Maryland and a house that's ten miles from DC in Virginia are going to look very different.

Some of it is MontCo receiving more and more poor residents who were gentrified out of DC. That's a huge and underrated part of why the Maryland suburbs, Montgomery and Charles counties in particular, have drifted to the left, while its less of a thing in NoVA for a variety of reasons, including the Maryland suburbs having more of an established "black culture" than the until recently pearly white NoVA suburbs and Maryland having better services and support for lower income people than Virginia.

Some of it is that MontCo includes areas closer in to DC that are more similar to Arlington than Fairfax (everything from the DC border to about Bethesda is more like Arlington than Fairfax county). If you split inner MontCo and outer MontCo into two counties, the differences between outer MontCo and Fairfax would not look so huge. 

Some of it is also self-selection people seeking a more liberal climate moving to MD vs people seeking lower taxes moving to VA. So the differences become self-reinforcing; people who would rather have higher taxes and more funding for transport and schools move to the areas with higher taxes and more funding for transport and schools and subsequently vote for higher taxes and more funding for transport and schools, and vice versa for people who want the opposite.
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