Northern Virginia Fast Facts
Northern Virginia (NoVA) is a region in the U.S. state of Virginia consisting of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, counties and the independent cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Together with Washington, D.C. and parts of Maryland and West Virginia, it makes up the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country.
The Northern Virginia area forms most of the Virginia portion of the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA, a Metropolitan Statistical Area. Northern Virginia as a whole is the most ethnically diverse/international and wealthy part of Virginia, and contains three of the ten highest income counties in the U.S.
Northern Virginia Demographics
2 million people (about 1/4th of Virginia’s total population) live in Northern Virginia.
The racial breakdown of the population of Northern Virginia is as follows:
- 66% White
- 11% Hispanic
- 11% Black
- 9% Asian
- 3% mixed race
Despite being the home of the Pentagon and well over 100 defense contracting companies, Northern Virginia is becoming known for favoring candidates of the Democratic Party in its voting patterns. The area went for Democrats Jim Webb in 2006 for U.S. Senator, Tim Kaine in 2005 for Governor, John Kerry in 2004 for U.S. President, and Mark Warner in 2001 for Governor. In three out of four of these races, the convincing margins tallied in Northern Virginia have swept the Democratic candidate into office.
The most recent election in Virginia was an extremely close one statewide. Democrat Jim Webb defeated incumbent Senator George Allen by the slim margin of 49.6% to 49.2%. However, that margin ballooned to 58.1% to 40.7% in favor of the Democratic challenger in the counties and cities of Northern Virginia, whereas Webb ran behind Allen, 46.1% to 52.7%, in the much of the remainder of the Commonwealth. Webb carried Fairfax County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County, as well as the more urban areas of Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church. Allen’s sole wins in Northern Virginia were cities of Manassas and Manassas Park, winning the latter two only by the razor-thin margins of 298 votes and 47 votes, respectively.
The 2006 election also had a gay marriage ban on the ballot in Virginia. While the rest of the state voted heavily for the ban, Northern Virginia voted heavily against it.
In the 2004 presidential elections, 53% of Northern Virginia voters voted for John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, and 46% voted for George W. Bush, the Republican candidate. This contrasted with the rest of Virginia, where 43% of voted for John Kerry and 56% for George Bush. Kerry also carried Fairfax County, the most populous county in Virginia, and Fairfax City, the first time those jurisdictions had voted Democratic since Johnson’s national lanslide in 1964 (although now the county is almost consistently voting Democratic). The strongest support in the area for the Democrats lies inside the Beltway, in Arlington, Alexandria, and parts of Fairfax County. The more distant areas (i.e., Loudoun County and Prince William County) are generally more conservative though as they have increased in population they have also become more liberal. Both Mark Warner in 2001, and John Kerry in 2004, lost Loudoun and Prince William. Tim Kaine won both counties in 2005. And in 2006, despite not polling as strongly as Mark Warner statewide, Democratic senate candidate Jim Webb won both Loudoun and Prince William. In 2005 65% of the voters of Northern Virginia voted for Democrat Tim Kaine for governor over Jerry Kilgore, who received only 32% of the vote, easily 14 points lower than George W. Bush’s showing only a year earlier.
The 8th, the 10th, and the 11th congressional districts lie within Northern Virginia. The 8th district votes overwhelmingly Democratic while the other two districts generally elect Republican congressmen but by smaller margins. The current congressman from the 8th district is Jim Moran (D), the current congressman from the 10th district is Frank Wolf (R), and the current congressman from the 11th district is Tom Davis (R). All three districts have moved toward the Democratic Party in recent years, though the Republicans Wolf and Davis have not yet seen serious threats to their seats.
In the 2005 Gubernatorial election, the entire region continued to move away from the Republicans. Fairfax County, Arlington County, the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, and Falls Church, and for the first time, Loudoun County and Prince William County, went to Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate. The area continued to be more Democratic the closer it was to Washington, D.C., but Richmond native Kaine was able to accomplish what Northern Virginian Mark Warner had been unable to do just four years earlier in 2001: carry Loudoun County and Prince William County (as well as win over 60% of the vote in Fairfax County).
In 2006, Democrat Mark Herring swept every precinct in the 33rd state Senate District Tuesday, Jan. 31, en route to beating Republican Loudoun County Supervisor Mick Staton by a wide margin of 62 to 38 percent, evidencing Loudoun’s transformation into a liberal county. The district sits primarily in Loudoun County but also includes nine precincts in western Fairfax County: Floris, Fox Mill, Frying Pan, McNair, Franklin, Kinross, Navy, Lees Corner East and Lees Corner West.
Northern Virginia is widely considered to be more Northern in its culture than the rest of Virginia. This can be attributed to the movement of Northerners to the area and its location near Washington D.C. and in the BosWash megalopolis, as well as the fact that more urban areas in Virginia tend to have more frequent migration and mixing of cultures.
Ironically, the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War was the primary army for the former Confederate States of America. Important battlefields and other Civil War themed attractions dot the region, most notably Manassas National Battlefield Park, and many area schools, roads, and parks are named for Confederate leaders.
Northern Virginia’s population is ethnically diverse with significant numbers of immigrants. There are large numbers of restaurants, and international food of nearly any type is easy to find. Immigrants have established many shops and many in ethnic centers, such as the Eden Center. Some are highly-educated doctors, engineers, diplomats, and other professionals, while others work in construction, landscaping, airport services, restaurants and convenience stores, vendors, taxi drivers, custodial services, and parking garages.
Due to the proximity to the capital, many Northern Virginians go to Washington D.C. for cultural outings. The Kennedy Center is a popular place for performances as is Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts near Vienna. Nissan Pavilion (near Manassas), the Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, and the Verizon Center in Washington serve as popular concert venues and Verizon Center also serves as the home of sporting events. Smithsonian museums also serve as local cultural institutions with easy proximity to Northern Virginia, and the new Udvar-Hazy center of the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport is popular as well.
Tysons Corner Center (“Tysons I”) is one of the largest malls in the country and is a hub for shopping in the area. Tysons Galleria (“Tysons II”), its counterpart across Route 123, carries higher-end stores. Other malls include Springfield Mall, Fair Oaks Mall, the Mall at Manassas, and The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Dulles Town Center is the region’s newest mall and serves the eastern Loudoun County area. Reston Town Center is a high-density mixed-use retail, commercial, and residential development located just off the 267 Toll Road in Reston. Potomac Mills is also one of the largest outlet malls in the region and is located in Prince William County. The Town of Leesburg, in Loudoun County, is locally famous for its outlet mall, Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets.
Since the mid-1990s, Loudoun County has become known as America’s fastest-growing county, having grown by almost 50% from 2000 though 2005. Since the 2000 census, both Loudoun and Fairfax counties are the top two large Highest-income counties in the United States by median household income. Loudoun County has branches of at least five higher education institutions.