President Obama campaigns in Northern Virginia on Friday, and he’s likely to highlight new jobs numbers that show unemployment at its lowest rate since he entered office.
But if Obama wins this state, as he did in 2008, if may not be because of his policies, but rather demographic shifts that are reshaping Virginia, particularly its growth in Latinos and liberal-leaning people who work in Washington, D.C but live in Northern Virginia.
Here’s a closer look at the state:
1. Northern Virginia: Obama’s America?
Buoyed by a strong defense, engineering and contracting sectors, this region has been able to whether the recession better than many other swing states. While the national unemployment rate hovers around 8 percent, the rate in Virginia is now at 5.9 percent. The black unemployment rate nationally is more than 13 percent, but it’s about three points lower in Virginia.
The economy is particularly strong in Northern Virginia. The president won the counties surrounding Washington by huge margins four years ago and is likely to repeat that this year.
2. Hampton Roads: The Base
With historically black universities from Hampton to Norfolk State University and a huge black population, the question in this region is less about people supporting Obama than making sure they turn out on Election Day.
3. The Power of Numbers: The Spread of the Black Vote
Virginia currently holds 13 electoral votes, representing 8,096,604 citizens; just under one-fifth, or 19.8% of the population, is African-American, about 7 points larger than the national average. This is another major advantage for the president.