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The Not-So-Much-In-Commonwealth of Virginia

Posted by Lauren Michaels | Posted in 2006 campaign, Politics, Virginia | Posted on 30-12-2006


I recently made note of this brave claim found in a Northern Virginia Asian-American newspaper called Asian Fortune:

Vietnamese American voters in Virginia helped tilt the balance of political power in the midterm election … Vietnamese Americans in Northern Virginia and elsewhere in the Old Commonwealth … flocked to the polls in greater numbers to help elect Democratic candidate James Webb in a tight-wire senatorial contest with incumbent Republican U.S. Senator George Allen.

Now we read in Gabriel Schoenfeld’s piece in the latest Commentary:

It is worth bearing in mind that in some states where the balance between Republicans and Democrats is close, Muslims are now able to serve as a decisive swing vote. In the critical and close-run Senate race in Virginia, for example, the Republican incumbent George Allen lost by fewer than 10,000 ballots to the Democratic challenger James Webb. Approximately 50,000 Muslim American voters participated in this election; according to one Muslim advocacy group, some 90 percent cast their ballots for Webb.  This is almost certainly an exaggeration. Nevertheless, a significant majority did vote for Webb. American Muslims can thus claim credit not only for sending him to the Senate but for handing over the Senate itself to Democratic control.

Vietnamese, Muslims — certainly many other ethnic groups can claim Webb’s victory as their own.  I’ve seen it plausibly argued that the influx of Guatemalans and Salvadorans into the Northern Virginia suburbs put Webb into the Senate.

Whichever group it is, there’s one stark reality about the new Virginia, neither red nor blue.  The Commonwealth is not, as pundits suggest, purple — which conjures up images of mountains majesty.  Instead, it’s become Mid-Atlantic political equivalent of the Balkans.  The birthplace of the Confederacy has now become the home to a much looser confederation of many different ethnic groups, each flexing muscular political power.

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