Democrats See On-Edge Exurbs as Election Key

Economic unease, shifting demographics sap GOP strength
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Oct 20, 2008 10:38 AM CDT
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks last month at George Mason University's Prince William County Campus, in Manassas, Va., likely a key exurban area in November's election.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Economic anxiety may give Democrats a chance to advance into traditionally Republican outer suburbs this year, the Washington Post reports. In many key states, especially Virginia, the downturn and housing-market meltdown have severed the outer edges of metropolitan areas from the GOP. Largely centrist voters in exurban Virginia have driven recent Democratic victories there, and are key to Barack Obama’s chances.

Virginia’s exurbs are becoming more educated and diverse, and growing rapidly. Prince William and Loudoun counties gained 157,000 people in 2000-05, and rates of educational attainment now greatly exceed the state’s as a whole. “We're working hard. We know we can't take it for granted anymore,” says a Republican official in Prince William County of the election.