HAMPTON-If you haven't heard of the Presidential Trend, demographic consultant Tony Fairfax says it's time that you do.
Fairfax, who lives in Hampton, wrote The Presidential Trend, a book analyzing national voting trends.
At a pre-launch party in Hampton, Fairfax told guests about the trend, which he describes as an extraordinary voting pattern for the Democratic presidential candidate from 1972 to 2000. During that time, the popular vote increased in a predictable "linear, straight-line." In fact, Fairfax says, the increase was so predictable, the popular vote for the Democratic presidential nominees in 1992, 1996, and 2000 could have been determined in 1988 with 99 percent accuracy.
Fairfax says the trend lasted 30 years for all the elections except 1976. That proved to be an outlier presidential election year for the Democratic candidate.
On the Republican side, there has been no predictable trend as the popular vote has fluctuated, according to Fairfax. Data from 1984 to 1992 reveals a drop of roughly 15 million votes for the Republican candidate. However, the popular vote for Republican candidates rebounded by roughly 10 million votes by 2000.
Fairfax's credits strong get-out-the-vote efforts for gains in the Democratic popular vote.
"It could be that if they did not have excellent get-out-the-vote and registration efforts, the trend might not have existed," he notes.
Regardless, the findings could be a wake-up call to Republicans, particularly in Virginia, because the data show voters of every ethnic group are leaning left. Political observers consider national election results to be an accurate marker for what happens in the Commonwealth. In 2008, the Virginia electorate turned blue, electing Barack Obama, the first Democrat presidential nominee since 1964. Obama won the popular vote in Virginia again in 2012.
It's a trend that hasn't gone unnoticed among Republican politicians. Rep. Scott Rigell represents Virginia's 2nd congressional district, which is considered a swing district. Last month, he was the only House Republican to vote against shutting down the federal government.
At his town hall meeting in Newport News last Saturday, Rigell spoke to more than 200 people about breaking the political gridlock by being willing to work across the political aisle - a gesture he says many of his fellow House members resist.
Rigell acknowledges that Democrats have prevailed in recent political debates largely because they have been more unified as a party.
"Therein lies our challenge on our side is to present an attractive alternative especially one that, I refer to it this way, one that is sweet to the ear of independent voters because there is an increasing number of independents," Rigell says.
In The Presidential Trend, Fairfax explores several questions related to the trend, including whether it penetrates state and local elections. In the final chapters, Fairfax uses the trend to make predictions about the 2016 presidential election.
His book is set to launch December 1.