Virginia Population Projections

We’ve just released the new 30-year population projections for Virginia, its 134 localities, 22 planning districts, and large towns  – projections of total population; population by age, sex, and race; and population by age, sex, and ethnicity. So there’s a lot of data involved. We’ll be blogging about it more in the days to come.

Today, I want to highlight the projections for total population. The state is projected to grow by more than 800,000 people in each successive decade, reaching 10.5 million by 2040, but this growth isn’t evenly distributed across the state. The table below shows the projected 2020 population and growth rate by region compared to the 2010 Census counts.

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Virginia Votes 2012: Turnout across localities

About two-thirds of Virginians voted last Tuesday!

65.3% of eligible Virginians voted in last week’s presidential election (based on unofficial results and an estimate of the number of eligible voters in Virginia*).  This represents a modest decline from 2008, when 66.7% of eligible Virginians voted, but the drop off in 2012 is minor at less than 2% and turnout in 2012 is still on the high end for Virginia historically.

Graphic showing voter turnout in Virginia over the past three decades

How does turnout across the state in 2012 compare to 2008?

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Virginia Votes 2012

Now that the votes are cast, we have some real electoral data to explore. My first question was how the distribution of Obama’s vote in Virginia in 2012 compared to 2008.

Using the unofficial results currently reported by Virginia’ State Board of Elections (with 2,573 of 2,588 precincts reporting), I plotted the percent of votes cast for Obama in 2012 and 2008 by county. The diagonal line shows the point at which vote shares in 2012 are the same as in 2008.

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…And now the “96 percent”

Yesterday’s post ended with an allusion to the “Hidden Welfare State” and the world of tax expenditures.  Households across all income categories are the beneficiaries of government assistance programs, and the oft-reported 49 percent who receive some type of government benefit is true only in a narrow sense.  So, in the end, how many of us actually receive government benefits?

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Religious Diversity, Religious Tolerance

In the wake of a very bad month for religious tolerance in the US  — including the shootings at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin;  the burning of a Mosque in Joplin, Missouri; and the insinuations about Muslim infiltration of government by a handful of Members of Congress, later denounced by some of their counterparts — religious diversity has been on my mind.

And, as I often do when I want to make at least a little more sense of the world, I went looking for data. What I came up with included data on religious adherence across the county (from the Association of Religion Data Archives), data on religiously-motivated hate crimes (from the FBI), and data on the demographics of religious adherents (Pew’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey).

Here’s a data point that will not surprise you (based on the 2010 U.S. Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study): among religious adherents in Virginia, Evangelical Protestant denominations claim the most members, with 43% of church members belonging to an Evangelical denomination. Mainline Protestants make up another 24% of Virginia’s religious adherents, and Catholics compose 19%.

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Red State, Blue State: Education and the Vote

There has been no dearth of attention among political commentators, strategists, and scholars to the role of education in the upcoming presidential election, particularly regarding Obama’s and Romney’s support among college-educated and non-college-educated whites. As many pollsters have noted, Romney polls very well among non-college educated whites, but college-educated whites are more evenly split between the major-party contenders. A recent Pew survey illustrates the pattern.

College education is generally being used by most analysts as a proxy to distinguish working-class voters from more upscale voters. While we briefly considered class and income in our recently released report, Red State, Blue State: Demographic Change and Presidential Politics in Virginia, we didn’t explicitly explore education — primarily because the Election Day Exit Polls in Virginia didn’t include it as a question in most years (though education, as a predictor of turnout, is incorporated into the scenarios projecting the 2012 electorate under 2004 and 2008 conditions).

Still,  given the attention paid to non-college whites as a key element of the Republican voting coalition, I thought readers might be interested in seeing more of the data.

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Red State, Blue State: Voting in Context

We released a report today on demographic change in Virginia and what it means for presidential election outcomes in the state. One takeaway from the study – of surprise to no one who follows elections closely – is that the impact of demographic changes on presidential elections in the state have been muted by differential turnout rates among demographic groups. For instance, minority voters, a growing population that has favored Democratic presidential candidates in recent elections, have lower turnout rates than do white voters.

Lots of things influence turnout. A study on demographic change will, reasonably enough, emphasize demographic factors. But the decision to show up at the polls on Election Day isn’t simply a function of individual attributes. People who vote (or don’t) are not simply better (or worse) citizens.

They vote, as well, because their neighbors or co-workers vote; because a campaign asked them to vote; because they believe to some degree that politicians care what people like them think. They don’t vote because they moved in the past year and are no longer properly registered; because they don’t have the time to vote between childcare, commuting to work and work itself; because they are ill or disabled; and because they don’t like their choices or don’t think the outcome will change anything of relevance to their lives.

Finally, individuals respond to deliberate policy choices, such as: state voter ID laws; new regulations of voter registration and restrictions on early voting; and ex-felon disenfranchisement laws.

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Voter Turnout in Virginia

For 2012 election-related commentary, please see these recent posts :

  1. Forget Ohio, it’s all about Virginia…and demographics
  2. Virginia Votes 2012
  3. Virginia Votes 2012:  Turnout across localities
  4. Lower turnout in 2012 makes the case for political realignment in 2008

In the 2008 Presidential election, 67% of eligible Virginia voters cast ballots, the highest turnout rate in the commonwealth in the modern political period (up from 61% in 2004 and 54% in 2000). Of course, this comparatively high turnout didn’t occur evenly throughout the state. In fact, there was striking variation evident across Virginia’s localities: the maximum turnout rate occurred in the city of Falls Church, with 87% turnout among the pool of eligible voters; at the lower end, only 40% of eligible voters in the city of Radford showed up at the polls.

Voter turnout here is estimated by the number of ballots cast in a locality (as recorded by the State Board of Elections) divided by the citizen voting age population in the locality (U.S. citizens aged 18 or over, as estimated by the  Census Bureau).

The map below shows the distribution of voter turnout across the state. The dark purple cities and counties had turnout rates much higher than the state total, with 75% or more of eligible residents turning out to vote. These are mostly localities in Virginia’s big metro areas: Northern Virginia, the Richmond area, and the Hampton Roads region.

The two lighter shades of blue denote localities where turnout was much lower than the state total, less than 60%. These are mostly in Virginia’s southwestern and Southside counties.

Voter Turnout by Locality

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