How rural Virginia made itself politically relevant again

How rural Virginia made itself politically relevant again

The sun sets over a hazy mountain ridge in Highland County. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury) It’s been a while since rural Virginia could claim it was heard in the corridors of state government power in Richmond as the populous northern Virginia and eastern suburbs turned the commonwealth a deeper hue of blue with each passing election. Until the second day of November this year, the last time most of ROVA — the Rest of Virginia — had cause to smile on election night was 2009, when Republican Bob McDonnell leveraged the abrupt end of a new Democratic president’s honeymoon and the depths of the Great Recession to perfect a rare GOP sweep. That’s 11 Novembers without cause to lift a cold one over election results in the state’s sparsely populated, Republican-voting areas until Glenn Youngkin came out of nowhere offering an antidote to Democratic governance that many felt went too far too fast and was increasingly contemptuous of their culture and values. The Election Day turnout in rural Virginia was historic. Twenty-five percent more Virginians cast ballots in the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election than voted in what had been the previous record vote for governor in 2017. Voting was slightly more robust in rural areas where about 56 percent of registered voters cast ballots for governor compared with urban and rural localities where about 54 percent showed up, according to State Department of Elections data. While McAuliffe still won the immediate suburbs, Youngkin eroded the margins McAuliffe needed to overcome […]

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