Last fall, Democrat Barack Obama won the presidential election with 52.87% of the popular vote to Republican John McCain’s 45.60%. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Obama’s share of the popular vote was nearly identical to his national take, 52.63% (a difference of less than 1/4 of 1%). McCain did a little better in the Old Dominion, but not by much (46.33%), than he did nationwide.
In New York’s 23rd congressional district, Obama also ran slightly below his national total, capturing 52% of the vote.
Given how closely Virginia’s vote mirrored the national vote, it’s no wonder Hugh Hewitt called the Commonwealth’s elections “the key story tonight.” While Virginia has long been a Republican stronghold, the only Southern state in 1976 to vote for Jerry Ford over the South’s native son Jimmy Carter, it has being trending Democratic in recent years, electing Democrats in the past two gubernatorial elections. Both its Senators belong to the president’s party.
With the growth of the federal government in recent years, more federal employees have been buying homes in Northern Virginia, making, Fairfax, the Commonwealth’s largest county, reliably Democrat. Should Republican Bob McDonnell poll well there tonight, it will be a real sign of a revitalized GOP.
Not just that, given that a lot of Congressfolk (and their staffs) make their homes in Northern Virginia, a strong McDonnell showing might spook Washington Democrats.
With Virginia’s tally last fall mirroring the national tally, a sign of Democratic erosion here would clearly indicate that Obama’s margin in 2008 had more to do with the dynamics of that election than with an ideological realignment of American voters.