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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Virginia Suburbs Revisited

Several alert readers have emailed me to make sure I know that the day-labor site in Herndon, Virginia, that was the object of Jerry Kilgore’s unsuccessful demagoguery in the late governor’s race is not, as I keep writing, in Loudoun County, but is instead in Fairfax County. (It’s actually near the Loudoun-Fairfax border, but facts are facts).Anyway, this correction enables me to point out that ol’ Jerry’s message resonated even less in the mega-suburb of Fairfax than it did in the smaller if faster-growing Loudoun. Kaine won Fairfax County by an astounding 60/38 margin, a plurality of more than 60,000 votes (or about 58% of his statewide margin), a big improvement over Mark Warner’s 54/45 win in 2001 (which produced a 25,000 vote plurality, or about 26% of Warner’s statewide margin).There’s a broader lesson here, that transcends suburban distaste for Jerry’s antics: Tim Kaine provided positive economic message to Northern Virginia, which harkened back to the days when Democrats made gains in high-growth areas by talking about balanced growth and “quality of life” issues. As the DLC noted today in a meditation on the Kaine suburban breakthrough, the middle-class and increasingly diverse residents of high-growth suburbs around the country are just as responsive to this message as they were in the 1990s. And “quality of life” is not just an issue for Starbucks patrons, by any means. Indeed, Democrats need to rediscover their voice on the real-life concerns of working stiffs who worry as much about traffic, sprawl, property taxes, and overcrowded schools as they do about offshoring or globalization. Check it out.

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