Focusing soley on Northern Virginia, the authors also break this area into four sub-regions (Inner Suburbs, Mature Suburbs, Emerging Suburbs, and Exurbs). Similar to the state as a whole, Obama did exceptionally well in strong Democratic areas, and made huge gains, compared to Kerry in 2004, in traditionally Republican areas (Emerging Suburbs and Exurbs).
The brief concludes stating that, politically speaking, Northern Virginia has many similarities with New Jersey suburbs of New York, and the rest of Virginia has similarities with, interestingly, South Carolina. With regards to future elections, the authors conclude:
Despite the fact that Barack Obama made considerable gains across the entire commonwealth of Virginia and won the state handily, it is much too early to tell if the Democrats have built a lasting majority in the state. There are a lot of macro-factors that influenced the outcome of the 2008 presidential race, including the overwhelming desire for change. Regardless, the 2008 Virginia race will be viewed as a window into the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.
This report finds that Northern Virginia’s Emerging Suburbs and Exurbs will be a primary battleground in state and national elections long into the future.
Despite the insights gleened from this report, I am unsetteled with the emphasis given to Northern Virginia here. The reality, however, electorally speaking, is that NoVA is the most crucial voting bloc in the state given it's massive, and growing, population density, especially for Democratic state-wide campaigns. I understand that, completely, and to argue differently would be naive. But, studies like this one, unintentially, consign Southside and Southwest Virginia to second-class status. Given, the logic goes, the vote-rich areas in other regions, the huge land mass of rural Virginia (i.e., time and travel), the meme of rural Virginia's political conservatism (sigh), state-wide candidates then, generally, focus their efforts in NoVA and elsewhere. But, let's remember Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, and Tom Perriello and the victories they earned by focusing beyond these urban, vote-rich centers.