Virginia 2nd District
The U.S. Navy Atlantic fleet berthed in its home port of Norfolk is one of the awe-inspiring sights in America, or anywhere. The aggregation of destructive power in the line of towering gray ships is probably greater than in any other single port in history. Several dozen ships are based here—aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, large amphibious ships, submarines, supply and logistics ships—and many more aircraft. Norfolk has been a Navy port since 1801 and has long been recognized as one of the best natural harbors on the East Coast, one that never freezes, has a channel 50 feet deep and is within 750 miles of three-quarters of U.S. manufacturing capacity. The Norfolk Naval Station is now the world’s largest naval station, situated on 4,300 acres on Sewell’s Point, and the Hampton Roads region is the world’s largest naval base, where residents are always within minutes of one naval installation or another. Once a small city, Norfolk is now a metropolitan area of 1.6 million people. The local Navy community— active duty and civilian personnel, dependents, retirees, and workers at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock—is estimated at more than 300,000, and military spending pours some $11 billion annually into the local economy, including $1 billion in construction projects from 2004 to 2008. The Port of Hampton Roads is the third-busiest port on the East Coast, and its cargo volume has grown steadily since 2000.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Next-door Virginia Beach, once a sleepy beach resort, is the state’s largest city, with 434,000 people. It began attracting tourists when rail service to Norfolk began in 1883. It is home to the headquarters of evangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, where the 700 Club is produced. The city has a growing industrial base, including a large tool plant of the German-based Stihl company. But like Norfolk, Virginia Beach is infused with military culture. It is home to four military installations with 35,000 service and civilian employees and an annual payroll of over $1 billion. East Coast Navy SEAL teams are based in Virginia Beach; these elite commandos endure punishing military training and have taken on some of the military’s most secretive and daring missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The 2nd Congressional District of Virginia includes all of Virginia Beach, plus small parts of Norfolk and Hampton, including the Norfolk Navy base and Langley Air Force Base and, on a spit of land in the bay, Fort Monroe, where Jefferson Davis was confined after the Civil War. It covers more than 100 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline and stretches from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to North Carolina. There are 110,000 active-duty military personnel in the larger metropolitan area. The district also includes a more placid area, the two Virginia counties of the Delmarva Peninsula, and Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the site of the annual roundup of wild Chincoteague ponies. These rural counties with their fishing villages are two of the state’s poorest. The overwhelming majority of the district’s population is in Virginia Beach. The district leans Republican. George W. Bush carried it handily twice, but Democrat Barack Obama beat former Navy aviator John McCain here 51%-49% in 2008.