We're used to electoral maps like this one from the 2010 congressional elections, where Reston was an archipelago of liberalism surrounded by an ocean of Right-Thinking Fairfax County residents. (If you want "health care," move to that big swath of blue across the Potomac in Maryland, pinko!) Back in ought-10, though, we just helped re-elect a gaffe-prone congressman. This year, Forbes believes Fairfax County will decide the next president.
That will make a few densely populated counties in each swing state the main battleground for the fall campaign, and the most important will be Fairfax County in Virginia.But all is not well in Fairfax County. The
Virginia is one of the states deemed too close to call, and this year it looks poised to be the kingmaker because of the way the other swing states will split. As Helene Cooper put it in the New York Times on May 4, “With Virginia, Mr. Obama can lose Ohio and still win re-election. With Virginia, he can lose Florida and still win re-election.” But without Virginia, Obama looks doomed — as Romney may be if he loses the Old Dominion’s electoral-college votes.
The way the electoral system works, though, it isn’t just a handful of swing states that are likely to decide which candidate wins in November, it’s a handful of counties within those states. In the case of Fairfax County, its 1.1 million residents represent one in seven of all Virginians, and so it bulks very large in the determination of which slate of electors will get the most votes. In 2008, candidate Obama attracted 310,000 votes in Fairfax, which was more than his margin of victory in the state. No other county in the state contributed even a third of that number.
Studies indicate that Virginia will be hit harder than just about any other state, with 87,000 jobs disappearing in 2013 and 115,000 in 2014. Reporter Patrick O’Conner warned in the Wall Street Journal on July 9 that the prospect of widespread layoffs in the military-industrial complex “could undercut Mr. Obama in battleground states heavily dependent on military spending, particularly Virginia.”That doesn't sound unethical at all!
Which brings us back to Fairfax County. Nobody seriously believes that Romney can carry a county that went over 60 percent for Obama the last time around. There are too many government workers and liberals in the county for that to happen. However, with hundreds of thousands of northern Virginians worried about their defense jobs in a second Obama Administration, it is quite possible Obama will receive less votes in the county — maybe enough less so that Romney can accumulate a majority statewide, winning Virginia’s 13 electoral-college votes.
Defense contractors are turning up the heat on the White House by threatening to send out notices to hundreds of thousands of defense workers on election eve warning of potential job losses if budget cuts take effect.
Washington Post web-logger Tom Jackman asked local politicians what they thought of all of this, and shockingly, the Republican agreed and the Democrat disagreed. The mind boggles.
Just think -- the reliably D-voting Reston electorate might be the only thing keeping Mitt Romney out of the White House this fall. But if