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People vote, not trees, or rocks, or territory.
This is the theory behind University of Virginia professor Larry J. Sabato's "Political Map of Virginia." Sabato, who is Director of the UVA Center for Politics, produced a similar map in 1988 to show the effects of growth particularly in Northern Virginia, but also in the Richmond and Tidewater areas. The regular map of Virginia displays the territorial boundaries of the 40 cities and 95 counties that comprise the Commonwealth of Virginia. Each of these cities and counties has been expanded or contracted to demonstrate its real proportion of the statewide electorate in Sabato's "Political Map of Virginia." Thus, the giant county of Fairfax, Virginia's largest jurisdiction with a population of nearly 1 million people, is the most prominent feature.
Northern Virginia as a whole is a substantial portion of the map, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the potential votes to be cast in any statewide election. Also of great importance is the growth of the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas. While the central cities of Richmond, Norfolk, and Portsmouth have either declined in population or grown only slightly, the surrounding suburbs have exploded in growth.
The big political losers are of course Virginia's rural areas, which take up far less space on the political map of Virginia than they do on the territorial map. This decline has been observed since the 1960's and it is proceeding apace, though a few rural localities are gaining population and becoming new suburbs - from Northern Virginia's Spotsylvania and Stafford counties to Charlottesville area's Greene and Madison counties, and the city of Suffolk in Tidewater.