According to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, until 1970, one in every 100 Virginians was born outside the United States. By 2006, one in every 10 was foreign-born.
For many, economic opportunity also glitters in Northern Virginia, where a third of the state's population resides.
"That economic magnet has attracted people from all over the country and world," Sabato says, "They don't share the same values that the old Virginia had. And the old Virginia would be the southern part of the state."
Gibson adds that "the new people moving in are bringing their partisan predispositions with them...many of those seem to be leaning on the blue side of the aisle."
And racial attitudes among younger generations in the new south are challenging the mindset of the generations before them observers say. After all, Virginians in their mid-thirties in this election cycle were high school students when their state elected the nation's first black governor, L. Douglas Wilder, in 1990.
"Young people believe deeply in the idea of diversity and racial tolerance," says Sabato, and though he notes that tolerance is not a given among younger generations, "it is a value system that they embrace and the Republican party missed it entirely. And if they're ever going to resurge they're going to have to get it."
Virginia leans right, he says, but cautions: "If McCain and the Republicans take Virginia for granted, they will lose it."