RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — When Virginians cast their ballots on Election Day, the state is expected to lean blue in key races but others are still considered toss-ups.
Democrats are hoping to maintain the voter enthusiasm that has handed them big wins in the wake of President Donald Trump’s 2016 upset. Republicans in Virginia are also banking on big turnout, partially in reaction to a slew of recently passed progressive policies on gun control and policing.
After spending the last few presidential races in the spotlight, Virginia appears to have lost its status as a key battleground state this time around–signaled by reduced spending on advertising and fewer high-profile campaign stops.
Since the general election began, President Donald Trump has paid one in-person visit to the commonwealth, holding a rally in Newport News in September that was partly intended to get the attention of voters over the border in competitive North Carolina.
Former Vice President Joe Biden hasn’t returned to the Old Dominion since winning the Democratic primary, though his wife Jill Biden, running mate Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff have all touched down in Virginia.
Nationally, pollsters are favoring a Biden win that is expected to include Virginia’s 13 electoral college votes. A Roanoke College Poll released on October 31st shows Biden with an 11-point lead over President Trump in the state–a statistically significant edge.
8News Political Analyst and Randolph-Macon College Professor Rich Meagher said demographic changes have contributed to the liberal shift in recent years.
“Virginia is becoming more and more demographically diverse and those voters are Democratic,” Meagher said. “After years of voting red in national elections, in the past few races, Virginia has been solidly blue. So this year, we expect no different. It should be a clear win for Joe Biden in the national election.”
If Biden does win the presidency, Democrats would still need a net gain of three Senate seats to win control of the chamber. With a Trump victory, Democrats would need four new seats since the vice president is the tie breaker in a possible 50-50 split.
In Virginia, Meagher expects incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner to keep his seat, as polls show him outpacing his Republican challenger Daniel Gade.
“Warner very narrowly won six years ago and so the thought over the last few years was that he would be vulnerable when he was up again but things have changed,” Meagher said. “It shows just how strongly the state tilts towards the Democrats.”
Republicans are not expected to win back control of the House overall but, here in Virginia, the party is trying to roll back recent Democratic gains.
Meagher said Republicans have a chance of taking back two of the three congressional districts that flipped from red to blue in 2018. In District 7, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the incumbent Democrat, is in a tight race with Republican Del. Nick Freitas. Democratic U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria is facing Republican Scott Taylor in a narrow rematch for the fate of District 2.
Even so, Meagher said all eyes are on District 5 this season– a historically red district where polls are too close for comfort. He said if Democrat Cameron Webb can beat out Republican Bob Good it will likely be part of a larger trend.
“If Webb does pull off the upset in that race, that suggests that it is going to be a huge night nationally for Democrats,” Meagher said. “It will be a bellwether to show us just how strong this turnout surge for Democrats is this year.”
Especially when it comes to close congressional races, there is a good chance the results will not be clear by the end of Election Day. The state will continue to count absentee ballots through noon on Friday, Nov. 6.
2020 ELECTION COVERAGE
- Two battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified their presidential election results Monday in favor of Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump's legal team continued to dispute the results.
- A small number of ballots on Tuesday could decide an extremely short term in Congress as voters in Georgia pick the man who will succeed the civil rights legend John Lewis, if only for a few weeks.
- Gade teased a "major announcement" on social media over the weekend, leading to speculation he might step in to run in the Republican primary against State Senator Amanda Chase and former House Speaker Kirk Cox.
- Arizona officials certified the state's election results on Monday, formalizing Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump even as the Republican president's attorneys continued to make baseless claims of fraud about the state's vote count.
- Arizona officials have certified Joe Biden’s narrow victory over President Donald Trump in the state.
- President Donald Trump said Sunday he was “ashamed” for endorsing the Republican governor of Georgia after he lost in the state to Democrat Joe Biden.
- Wisconsin has finished a recount of its presidential results, confirming Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump in the key battleground state.
- Wisconsin finished a recount of its presidential results on Sunday, confirming Democrat Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump in the key battleground state. Trump vowed to challenge the outcome in court even before the recount concluded.
- President-elect Joe Biden has now surpassed 80 million votes, the most in history, with the final ballots still being counted.
- Milwaukee County completed its recount of presidential ballots Friday, finding only small changes in vote totals for one of the two Wisconsin counties recounting ballots, but President Donald Trump's attorneys appear ready for a legal challenge seeking to toss tens of thousands of ballots.