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Virginia Presidential elections of 1932, 1972 and 2012

Each locality’s size is proportional to the number of votes cast there. The shading of each locality represents the percentage of the population who voted.
Virginia 1932, 1972, 2012 elections. Each locality's size is determined by number of votes. Colors show what percentage of population voted.

These maps illustrate two major changes (greater urbanization of votes within the state, and increased participation in voting) in three Virginia presidential elections spanning 80 years: 1932, 1972 and 2012.
The first map above represents the 1932 election, in which only 12.30% of the 1930 population cast ballots–the shading shows the 36 localities in which this figure was less than 10%. The cartogram also shows that a large portion of the votes were cast in rural areas, with only a few distinct population centers.
By the 1972 election the cartogram shows the centralization of votes in metropolitan areas. Additionally, voting was not as sparse as in 1932. In this election 31.34% of the 1970 population cast ballots, and while there was still one county in which this figure remained under 20%, there were also six above 40%.
In the 2012 election the votes are even more predominantly located in the state’s metropolitan areas, and a comparison of this cartogram with 1972 makes especially clear the growth of Northern Virginia’s outer suburbs. Also, participation in the electorate had grown: 48.22% of the 2010 population cast ballots, with 38 localities over 50% and six over 60%.

Bonus maps: As a supplement, the following are unaltered maps showing the election results at the city/county level for the Presidential elections of 1932, 1972 and 2012 in Virginia.

 

1932 Presidential election in Virginia
1932 Presidential election in Virginia

 

1972 Presidential election in Virginia
1972 Presidential election in Virginia

 

2012 Presidential election in Virginia
2012 Presidential election in Virginia

Source of 1930 and 1970 population data: U.S. Census Bureau Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990
Source of 2010 population data: U.S. Census Bureau 7/1/2015 County Population Estimates
Source of 1932, 1972 and 2012 election data: Virginia Department of Elections

Virginia in 1920: area A had more residents than area C. Today: area C has more residents than areas A & B combined.

Virginia in 1920: area A had more residents than area C. Today: area C has more residents than areas A & B combined.
Virginia in 1920: area A had more residents than area C. Today: area C has more residents than areas A & B combined.
This map compares the population of Northern Virginia with that of Southwest Virginia and the rest of the state, and shows a significant change over the past century.

 

In 1920, the combined population of area “A”, or the three Virginia counties furthest to the southwest (the counties of Lee, Scott and Wise–the independent city of Norton did not exist), was 96,569. The combined population of area “C”, or the Northern Virginia region (the city of Alexandria and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William–the independent cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park did not exist), was 90,280.

 

As of the U.S. Census population estimates for 2015, the population of today’s area “C” (the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park) is 2,447,654. Not only is this larger than the population of area “A” (which is 90,525), but it is larger than the populations of area “A” and all of area “B”, a region which covers a large geographic portion of Virginia and includes not only all of Southwest Virginia but most of the Shenandoah Valley area and much of Southside and Central Virginia. The combined population of this region is 2,438,611.

 

It is worth noting that if this comparison were to use 2010 census data, the area whose population Nova exceeds would be 6 counties smaller (in 2010, area “B” would not have included the counties of Amelia, Culpeper, Goochland, Louisa, Orange and Powhatan).
Using 2010 data, the area whose population Nova exceeds would have been 6 counties smaller than in 2015.
Using 2010 data, the area whose population Nova exceeds would be 6 counties smaller than in 2015.
The rate of population growth of Northern Virginia, compared with the rest of Virginia, has been such that area “B” has grown by one or two counties in each of the years between 2011 and 2015 (it grew to include Orange and Powhatan in 2011, Louisa in 2012, Culpeper in 2013, Powhatan in 2014, and Goochland in 2015).
In fact, the area whose population Nova exceeds has grown by one or two counties in each of the years between 2011 and 2015.
In fact, the area whose population Nova exceeds has grown by one or two counties in each of the years between 2011 and 2015.

Source of 2010-2015 data: U.S. Census Bureau 7/1/2015 County Population Estimates

Source of 1920 data: U.S. Census Bureau Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990