The presidential candidates haven’t been here yet, but they might want to check out Deerwatch Drive because people around here know how to pick winners. The neighborhood chose Democrat Mark Warner for Senate, flipped from Democrat Timothy M. Kaine to Republican Robert F. McDonnell for governor, and selected George W. Bush for president twice. Four years ago, they erred, but just barely, choosing McCain over Obama by 15 votes.
Virginia Democrats, Republicans and independents alike look at Tuesday’s Republican primary in the state and ask what’s gone wrong with a political system that leaves only Romney and Ron Paul on the ballot (Virginia’s tough rules kept Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum from qualifying.) On Deerwatch Drive, there’s precious little excitement about those choices, even among those who regret their 2008 vote for Obama.
Many wonder whether there’s any point in voting.
“Whether Obama wins will depend on whether he can reenergize those people who came out for him in ’08 — people who hadn’t been seen at the polls before and haven’t come out since,” says Ted Velkoff, a Chantilly Democrat who is on the county school board.
Of the 70 Deerwatch residents who voted in 2008, only 30 have taken part in any subsequent election, even those for governor or senator. Half of the ’08-only voters are either immigrants or children of immigrants, according to county records and Post reporting.
Come November, Deerwatch residents and people like them in suburbs all over Virginia will be the grand prize in a presidential contest that could turn on whether Obama can again motivate millions of young people, immigrants and minority voters who don’t usually vote.
Swing -state status
Thanks in large part to developments like Walney Village, once-solidly Republican Virginia has morphed into the quintessential swing state. Its U.S. Senate race features two legendary vote-winners, Kaine and Republican George Allen, both former governors, vying for the seat being vacated by Sen. James Webb, a conservative Democrat who ousted Allen six years ago.
Virginia’s journey from red to purple has been led by explosive growth in the Washington suburbs; three counties — Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax — accounted for 40 percent of the state’s growth in this century’s first decade. Most of that growth has come from immigrants, Hispanics and Asians: Although Virginia’s under-18 population increased 7 percent between 2000 and 2010, the number of native-born white and black children actually declined, census data shows.
Asso Rashid — a civil engineer who came to the United States from Iraq for college, went home, and then returned 13 years ago — figures himself and his fellow Muslims on the block as natural Republicans. “We’re conservative people, in many ways,” he says. “Socially, our religion, fiscally. I like the Republican view on abortion.” He voted for McCain last time, though he liked Hillary Rodham Clinton too.