Has political influence left the commonwealth? Checking in on Virginia’s swing state status

2020 Election
In this combination of file photos, former Vice President Joe Biden, left, speaks in Wilmington, Del., on March 12, 2020, and President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington on April 5, 2020. (AP Photo/File)

In this combination of file photos, former Vice President Joe Biden, left, speaks in Wilmington, Del., on March 12, 2020, and President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington on April 5, 2020. (AP Photo/File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia is one of the original 13 colonies and the birthplace of the first five U.S presidents. So it makes sense that Virginia is an important state when it comes to presidential elections.

But some wonder, “Is Virginia still a swing state? How important is Virginia in the 2020 Presidential race?”

Virginia along with North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and others are considered swing states in the Presidential race because they are critical to winning the election.

And Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond Dan Palazzolo says Virginia is completely different now than it was during the 2008 election.

He says it’s not unusual for the makeup of a state’s political ideology to change from time to time.

“If you look at certain congressional districts, for example, the seventh district the second district, those are Republican-leaning, but they’re currently being represented by Democrats,” Palazzolo explained. “If you look at the fifth district, that’s Republican-leaning, but the Democrats are trying to make a play to win that.”

Recent presidential elections are examples of how things have changed in Virginia. Barack Obama ended his 2008 campaign with a rally in Manassas, Virginia. Before that election, Republicans viewed the state as an easy win.

Mitt Romney in 2012 and then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 became frequent visitors of the state, hoping to capture the once Republican stronghold.

But Hillary Clinton chose Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate in the 2016 election and they went on to win the state by 5.32%.

Palazzolo says the days of overwhelming TV ads and campaign stops by presidential candidates, that Virginians saw in 2016 and before, are gone.

“There are quite a few states that are much more competitive,” said Palazzolo. “So, what we’re seeing in Virginia is ads being run by both sides. More from Biden than by Trump, partly because, I think, Biden has a lot of money to spend.”

Palazzolo says Virginia use to be a key state to watch on the night of the Presidential election. Now battleground states like Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin are the states to watch this year.

“It shifted pretty quickly away from Virginia from a battleground to a Democratic state,” said Palazzolo.

While Virginia might not be a battleground state anymore, according to Palazzolo, Virginia lawmakers still have reasons to look forward to the November Presidential election.

Palazzolo says the senatorial race in Virginia, in his opinion, is leaning more towards Mark Warner because he’s the incumbent in what seems to now be a more blue state.

He also explained that the City of Richmond’s mayoral and city council races, don’t influence whether Virginia is considered a swing state or not because those elections are nonpartisan.

Palazzolo shares that no matter how the commonwealth is represented now or in November’s election, make sure your voice is heard.

“Regardless of whether or not if you think this state is leaning one way or the other, it’s really important for people to vote. It’s our opportunity to express our voices. So regardless of your party identification or affiliation, I encourage everybody to vote,” he said.

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