The following are some Virginia precincts you might want to keep an eye on tomorrow night for an early indication of how things are going. I included a bunch of these because they were within a few points of Terry McAuliffe’s 2.5-point statewide margin of victory in 2013, thus qualifying as “bellwether” precincts. I included other precincts for reasons which I’ll explain below. Note that this list is not meant to be comprehensive; if you have suggestions for other precincts to keep an eye on, please let me know in the comments section. Thanks!
Prince William County: The key question in Virginia’s second-largest county, next to Fairfax County, is how big a margin Democrats rack up. In 2013, Terry McAuliffe won PW County by about 8,000 votes (50k-42k) — an 8.2 percentage point margin of victory. A few precincts that were tightly contested in 2013, and that which bear watching this time, include: Potomac View (3.3-point TMac margin in 2013); Mohican (4.3-point TMac margin), Montclair (3.1-point TMac margin), Henderson (5.8-point TMac margin), Pattie (4.1-point TMac margin), Yorkshire (3.7-point TMac margin), Marsteller (0.2-point TMac margin), Ellis (2.4-point Cooch margin), Piney Branch (2.4-point Cooch margin), and Haymarket (1.6-point Cooch margin).
Fairfax County: These results will probably come in relatively slowly, as they usually do. A few precincts to watch include Sideburn (1.1-point Cooch margin in 2013), Colvin (0.4-point Cooch margin), Gunston (0.7-point Cooch margin), Difficult Run (4.1-point Cooch margin), South Run (1.3-point Cooch margin), Cooper (3.0-point TMac margin), Willow Springs (2.6-point Cooch margin), Fairfax Station (4.9-point Cooch margin), Great Falls (4.4-point TMac margin), Hayfield (2.3-point TMac margin), Seneca (5.0-point TMac margin), Riverside (4.2-point TMac margin), South County (4.2-point TMac margin), Orange (2.7-point TMac margin), Sangster (2.2-point TMac margin), Silberbrook (0.5-point TMac margin), Newgate North (2.5-point TMac margin), Greenbriar West (4.9-point TMac margin), and Poplar Tree (1.4-point TMac margin). Also, one of my Fairfax County sources tells me, “Heritage, Lorton station and Reston are key Democratic precincts. Reston is normally high turnout and the other two low.” and “Clifton and Westgate are two high turnout Republican precincts but since they both have competitive HOD races it might not be a good way to judge the governors race. If they are below average in spite of those raves, it should be a good sign.” Also note that Westgate is Gillespie’s home precinct, went by 10 points to Cooch in 2013, so keep an eye for the margin there (obviously, if Gillespie were to lose his home precinct, it would be game over for him).
Albemarle County: Check out Northside precinct (went by 3.9 points to TMac in 2013), Monticello (4.1-point TMac margin), Earlysville (2.1-point TMac margin)…
Arlington County, Alexandria, Charlottesville, Falls Church, etc.: These will almost all be large margins for Northam/Fairfax/Herring, but keep an eye on turnout and margins in these deep-blue jurisdictions. Arlington Dems Chair Kip Malinosky suggest checking out Park Lane (53-point TMac margin in 2013), Arlington View (66-point TMac margin) and Madison (25-point TMac margin) for a diverse sampling of Arlington precincts…
Chesterfield County: This is the fourth-largest county in Virginia, one that went 49%-41% for Cooch in 2013. A few precincts to keep an eye on include Harrowgate (4.3-point TMac margin in 2013), South Manchester (3.0-point TMac margin), Providence (3.0-point TMac margin), Cranbeck (1.7-point TMac margin), Jacobs (1.0-point TMac margin in 2013), Iron Bridge (2.5-point Cooch margin), Greenfield (2.1-point Cooch margin),
Henrico County: This is the fifth-largest county in Virginia, also one that’s been trending blue, so it’s definitely one to keep an eye on. Check out Monument Hills precinct (2.1-point TMac margin in 2013), Stratford Hall (2.5-point TMac margin, exactly the statewide margin of victory), Moody (2.3-point TMac margin), Mountain (1.8-point TMac margin), Springfield (3.9-point TMac margin), Pemberton (1.6-point TMac margin), Greendale (3.4-point TMac margin), Coalpit (4.2-point Cooch margin), West End (1.7-point Cooch margin), Dorey (0.3-point Cooch margin) and Pocohontas (1.7-point Cooch margin)
Loudoun County: This is the third-largest county in Virginia, also a “purple”/”swing” county, so again, this one’s crucial. Keep an eye on River Bend (2.4-point TMac margin in 2013, almost exactly his statewide margin), Evergreen (2.3-point TMac margin), Red Rock (3.2-point TMac margin), Little River (1.3-point TMac margin), Town Hall (1.1-point TMac margin), Hutchison Farm (3.7-point TMac margin), Hillside (3.4-point TMac margin), Broad Run (3.5-point TMac margin), Eagle Ridge (1.6-point TMac margin), Cool Spring (0.6-point TMac margin), Heritage (1.6-point Cooch margin)
Newport News: Big Democratic percentages in Virginia’s 5th-largest city, but definitely want to check out margins and vote totals. Also, keep an eye on Hilton precinct (1.3-point TMac margin in 2013), Boulevard (2.0-point Cooch margin), Nelson (2.9-point Cooch margin), Charles (3.1-point Cooch margin).
Norfolk: Again, big Dem percentages, this time in Virginia’s 2nd-largest city, so keep an eye on margins and vote totals. Also, check out Northside precinct (2.7-point TMac margin in 2013, almost exactly the statewide margin), Bayview (5.4-point TMac margin), Little Creek (2.6-point TMac margin, again almost identical to the statewide margin), Crossroad (1.9-point TMac margin), Azalea Gardens (0.6-point TMac margin)
Prince Edward County: A small, bluish/purple county; check out West End (1.9-point TMac margin), Lockett (1.8-point TMac margin) and Farmville (exact tie) for three precincts that were pretty close to the statewide margin (2.5 points for TMac) in 2013.
Richmond City: Heavily Democratic (went 73%-17% for TMac in 2013), so the main things to look at will be margins and total number of votes cast. For instance, precinct #208 saw 1,217 votes cast in 2013, breaking 68%-19% for TMac. Precinct #504 saw 1,245 votes cast, breaking 82%-8% for TMac. There are only a few Republican precincts in Richmond – 102 (went for Cooch by 2.9 points, with 732 votes cast), 104 (4.8-point Cooch margin with 1,151 votes cast) and 106 (24.4-point Cooch margin, with 1,196 votes cast) – so check out the turnout and margins there.
Staunton: This small city almost exactly matched the statewide margin for McAuliffe in 2013; check out Bennetts Creek precinct (2.9-point TMac margin), Ward #3 (1.4-point TMac margin) and Ward #4 (2.4-point Cooch margin).
Virginia Beach: The largest city in Virginia, split almost evenly in 2013 (Cooch 48%-TMac 46%). Check out Aragona precinct (2.0-point TMac margin), Indian Lakes (2.7-point TMac margin), Old Donation (3.4-point TMac margin), Bellamy (1.0-point TMac margin), Pembroke (4.6-point TMac margin), Rosemont Forest (1.5-point TMac margin), Larkspur (0.3-point Cooch margin), Colonia (2.2-point Cooch margin), Chesapeake Beach (0.7-point Cooch margin), London Bridge (2.8-point Cooch margin).
Winchester: A small city, went slightly (48%-46%) for Cooch in 2013. Check out Merrimans precinct (1.6-point TMac margin) and Old Town (0.6-point Cooch margin).
Wise County: Should break heavily Republican, so check out Wise precinct (48-point Cooch margin in 2013), West Pound (43-point Cooch margin), East Stone Gap (56-point Cooch margin) and Clinch Valley (61-point Cooch margin) to get an idea for how Gillespie’s doing in deep-red southwestern Virginia.