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Analysis: Northern Virginia Demographics Spur Obama, Kaine Wins

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After months of heated presidential and U.S. Senate campaigns in Virginia, Democrats pulled out wins in both races last night. President Obama carried the state for the second time and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine will become the Commonwealth's junior Senator. Shane Goldmacher, Congressional Correspondent for National Journal, joined Matt McCleskey for analysis of what happened in Virginia.

What appears to have made the difference for President Obama?

"The difference was definitely Northern Virginia. As of this morning, President Obama was up by about 107,000 votes. He won by 80,000 votes in Fairfax County and 27,000 votes in Prince William. There's his margin right there."

In the U.S. Senate race, both campaigns had tried to draw connections between Kaine's relationship with the President. To what extent do you think that ended up influencing the results yesterday?

"At the end of the day, Tim Kaine ran ahead of the President. He performed a little better than the President did against his Republican opponent... For Kaine hitching himself to the President's wagon was a good idea — the president won. But what he really wanted to do was out-perform President Obama in the case that he lost the state narrowly. He didn't, so it made Kaine's margin all the bigger."

Republican groups had poured million of dollars into that Senate race. Do you think their loss will discourage that kind of spending next time around?

"Anybody who has watched TV in the area for months has seen it. There is no Senate candidate in the country who had more money spent against him than Tim Kaine. The fact is that he won. All across the country this happened. The Democrats who were largely outspent by these outside groups on the Republican side, they beat this deluge of spending from the outside. Will these outside groups reconsider? Maybe. But it's been shown that negative advertising is one of the most effective ways to move votes, but it didn't work this year, and not in Virginia."

We had talked with you earlier about changing demographics in Virginia. What impact do you think that had yesterday?

"Demographics are the reason Northern Virginia is such a big part of this state now. One: it's the fastest growing part of the state. Two: it's increasing diverse. In general, a more diverse electorate has tended to vote Democrat. Older, whiter voters have tended to vote Republican in more rural areas, and even in the suburbs. As that rapid growth in demographic changes come to Virginia, it's made it more competitive for the Democrats and more of a swing state as a whole."


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