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Old Posted Dec 23, 2020, 6:04 PM
Manitopiaaa Manitopiaaa is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Alexandria, Royal Commonwealth of Virginia
Posts: 494
It's already not majority Southern. Here's my map of Virginia's regions:

Northern Virginia (yellow) is 3,161,137 people (37% of the Commonwealth) and distinctly not Southern. I'm an Alexandrian and other than legacy historical markers, I would have never considered my city anything but Northern. The culture is certainly an extension of Northeast culture. And demographic inflows keep chipping away at whatever residual Southern culture remains. Places like Fauquier, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Culpeper, Orange, and King George still have a majority Southern culture, but there's a rapid influx of liberals wanting a more rural/exurban bucolic lifestyle. They are falling into Nova's sphere of influence.

Which is why some of the biggest trends against Trump came from this belt of "used-to-be-ruby-red" counties:

Hampton Roads (red in the first map above) is 1,638,685 people and used to be Southern until WWII, when the influx of military transplants and Northeasterners upended the culture. It's now a blend of the two (Black culture is mostly Southern, but changing, but all others are not), but feels distinctly different from even 100 miles into North Carolina.

Tidewater (orange, the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Eastern Shore) is an extension of the Chesapeake Bay and feels more like parts of New England than the Old South (it's a rural, maritime culture, without pervasive evangelicalism).

Those 3 regions alone are 5,015,490 people, and don't feel very Southern to me outside of small areas.

Southside (purple) is still 100% Southern, but only has 530,350 people. If you consider Appalachian culture to be "Southern" (I don't) then you can add Appalachia (blue, 567,700 people) and maybe Shenandoah Valley (green, 641,252 people) to the mix as Southern (it's peripheral Appalachia).

Personally, Shenandoah Valley to me feels like Pennsylvania more than South Carolina, given it's a mix of small liberal college towns (Harrisonburg, Lexington), increasingly progressive retirement communities (Staunton), environmentalist and outdoor enthusiasts (Roanoke and the Triple Crown area), conservative farmlands (most of the region's area), wealthy business-friendly suburbs (Salem), Dixie supporters (intermixed throughout), winery-owning yuppies (near Shenandoah National Park). It's still a Conservative region on the whole, but far less than what you'd find in the South.

Most of the rural South is closer to 80-20% Republican, whereas Shenandoah Valley is more 60-40% Republican. Our liberal Senator, Tim Kaine, won 42% there in 2018. And the region trended strongly Joe Biden last month, closer to what you saw in Eastern Pennsylvania rather than rural North Carolina. So I'd caution people who automatically think rural = Southern.

Piedmont (pink) with 1,658,712 people, is a grab-bag. Unlike Nova and Hampton Roads (which are more non-Southern with pockets of South), Piedmont is the opposite (more Southern with pockets of non-South). Almost all of the rural areas here feel Southern, especially those around the Lynchburg/Appomattox Area. The rural counties in between Charlottesville and Richmond are also Southern in feel. Charlottesville, however, does not feel Southern at all, other than history. It feels like a town you could find in Vermont. Closer to Burlington, VT than Burlington, NC.

Richmond is another area of muddled cultures. The Black population still feels distinctly Southern, but transplants to the area do not. Places like Chesterfield and Henrico feel like the Fall Line, with people who seem Southern and others who could have just moved from New York. The shifting politics of this area (Biden flipped Chesterfield County, the first Dem win since 1948!) is another indication of "Northern creep."

All in all, the majority of Virginians orient Northeastern now, so I consider it a Northeast state, albeit one where certain regions are still distinctly and strongly Southern. I think last month's election provides a good "line of division." If you look at the north half of the state, it trended almost uniformly in Biden's favor. That gigantic chunk (where most Virginians live) is what I'd call the 'emerging Northeast bastion.' Suburban Nova is already firmly Northeast, but now that creep is rapidly enveloping exurban Nova, northern Shenandoah Valley, and most of Piedmont's population centers.

I think in 10 years, Virginia will be bluer than Connecticut, and the cultural dominance of Northeast culture will reach critical mass in Richmond. The state government is making major investments to connect Richmond to the Northeast Corridor, and even spent $4 billion last year buying the right-of-way for the entire track that connects Richmond to Washington.

It's not a question of whether Virginia is still majority Southern (it's already not). It's a question of when Northeast culture spreads enough to take a commanding majority of the State's population centers. After last month's election, I think it'll happen sooner than most think.

Last edited by Manitopiaaa; Dec 23, 2020 at 6:16 PM.
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