Editorial: Battleground county

The last time Rappahannock County was a battleground was 150 years ago during the Civil War, or War Between the States. Today’s battleground status also is the result of a divided nation – no longer Confederate versus Union but Red versus Blue states. So the resolution of the nation’s current division should come this time not at the point of guns and bayonets but in the results of the Presidential election this coming November.

Roughly 35 of the 50 states are solidly and predictably either Republican or Democratic. The remaining states have electoral votes that can theoretically go either way and will thus decide the election. These swing states are where the Presidential campaign action is – and where unprecedentedly huge campaign cash is going.

Virginia – which went for Obama last time, Bush the time before that and has a history of rotating Republicans and Democrats into its governorship – is one of those key battleground, or toss-up, states.

And within Virginia, Rappahannock County must also be rated a toss-up. For unlike the rest of the country, where like-minded groups tend to self-segregate into homogeneous communities, Rappahannock seems to have something for everybody, no matter how different.

Rappahannock County is both an “Evangelical Epicenter” and a “Monied Burb,” according to a demographic analysis crafted in a book called “Our Patchwork Nation,” by Dante Chinni and James Gimpel.

Reliably and overwhelmingly Republican, with lower incomes, more interest in guns than books, and strongly negative attitudes toward homosexuality: these are some of the defining characteristics of communities identified as Evangelical Epicenters.

In contrast, residents in Monied Burbs tend to vote Democratic, have higher incomes, prefer to listen to NPR instead of conservative talk radio, and have the highest percentage of any of the book’s 12 Patchwork Nation groups who believe homosexuality as a way of life should be accepted by society.

But at least one thing people in Evangelical Epicenters and Monied Burbs both agree on – by the same wide margin – is the statement, “You will get ahead if you work hard.” There’s unity – and hope – in that.

Walter Nicklin