Home 2020 Elections Graphs: Key Takeaways From the 11/3/20 Virginia Elections

Graphs: Key Takeaways From the 11/3/20 Virginia Elections

Biden won VA by nearly 10 pts; Rashid got the most votes ever by a Dem in VA01; Spanberger got the most votes ever in VA07; Luria got BY FAR the most votes for a Dem ever in VA02; Wexton got BY FAR the most votes ever in VA10; Webb got the most votes ever by a Dem in VA05...


The November 3, 2020 elections in Virginia are now over, and the numbers are just about final (there may be a few minor changes through Tuesday, as mail ballots continue to be tabulated, but mostly the following numbers should capture what happened last Tuesday). With that, see below for some graphs and key takeaways…

  • First off, Joe Biden is now up to a lead in Virginia of 9.6 percentage points (53.85%-44.29%) and nearly 420k votes. With 2,361,936 votes (and still counting), Biden received by far the most votes by a presidential candidate in Virginia history, with Hillary Clinton in 2016 at 1,981,473 votes and Barack Obama in 2012 at 1,971,820 votes. For his part, Donald Trump’s 1,942,581 votes (and still counting) put him behind Biden, Clinton and both Obama 2012 and 2008, but ahead of any other Republican presidential candidate in Virginia history (Mitt Romney is second, at 1,822,522 votes, followed by Trump in 2016, with 1,769,443 votes).
  • So…Trump got about 180k more votes this election than he received in 2016, but Biden got about 380k more votes than Clinton got in 2016. Hence, the huge victory margin for Biden!

  • Looking at key, competitive U.S. House races, in percentage terms Dr. Cameron Webb (D) outperformed Biden in VA05 by about 2.3 percentage points (but still lost to Republican Bob Good, unfortunately); Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) outperformed Biden in VA07 by 1.2 percentage points; and Rep. Elaine Luria (D) outperformed Biden in VA02 by 0.3 percentage points (note that there was also a conservative independent candidate, David Foster, who got 2.5% in this race).
  • In VA10, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D) underperformed Biden by 2.1 points; and in VA01, Qasim Rashid (D) underperformed Biden by 5.2 points. 

  • In absolute number terms, Biden received about 26.5k more votes than Qasim Rashid (D) in VA01. That one really jumped out at me, and it would be interesting to know what happened here exactly, as from everything I could tell, Rashid ran a very strong campaign, raised a ton of money, did well in his debate against Rep. Rob Wittman, really got around the district (wearing a mask, of course), had a number of “viral” social media posts, etc, etc. So why did he underperform Biden by 26.5k votes? Several folks in VA01 I’ve spoken with the past few days (including activists and others who know the district and campaign well) have pointed to what they (strongly) believe to be anti-Muslim and/or anti-“foreign” bigotry in the district. Others have told me they don’t think Rashid had extensive community ties, and that might have hurt him. Also note that Rashid ran as a super-strong progressive, yet Biden outperformed him in the district; did that make any difference? On the other hand, is it possible that Rashid didn’t so much *underperform*, but that Wittman *overperformed*? See below for more thoughts on that.
  • In VA10, Biden received about 12.8k more votes than Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D). I find this one somewhat surprising, although perhaps there are some folks in VA10 who are more “moderate Republicans” who couldn’t abide Trump, but who voted Republican “down ballot?”
  • In VA02, Biden got around 661 more votes than Rep. Elaine Luria (D), so…basically no difference.
  • In VA07, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) out-performed Biden by about 2.7k votes (out of around 450k), so perhaps there were a few Trump/Spanberger voters?
  • In VA05, Dr. Cameron Webb (D) out-performed Biden by about 7.1k votes (out of around 372k), so…maybe there were a few thousand Trump/Webb voters? If so, perhaps that might have been the result of the animosity between Bob Good and Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA05), who Good unseated for the nomination? Perhaps some of it was because of Webb reaching out strongly to Trump supporters, for instance by emphasizing that he worked – albeit briefly – in the Trump White House as he completed his White House Fellow stint that began under President Obama? Hard to say…but interesting nonetheless.

  • Now, looking at VA01’s vote breakdowns since 2012, after its last redistricting, we can see that Qasim Rashid got the most votes of any Democrat *EVER* in the district, by a significant margin actually, which is very impressive AND undercuts the idea that Rashid “underperformed” in any way. It also seems to undercut the theory about anti-Muslim/anti-“foreign” bigotry
  • Wittman’s vote total is really eye-popping. The fact is, with Trump on the ballot, Trump supporters turned out in *droves* across Virginia, including in VA01 for Rep. Wittman. The question is, will those voters continue to show up in coming years, when Trump is NOT on the ballot? For instance, how about in the 2022 “midterms,” which by the way will also be after the next redistricting, at which point VA01 could be “bluer” or “redder” than it is now…

  • In VA02, Rep. Elaine Luria (D) received by FAR the most votes of any Democrat running in that district, ever. Meanwhile, Scott Taylor (R) received far fewer votes than he got in 2016, when he was first elected to Congress. Of course, Taylor faced a very weak opponent in 2016, while in 2020 he faced a VERY strong opponent, plus he was weakened by the “Petitiongate” scandal. Finally, VA02 seems to be moving into more and more of a “purple” status, from its formerly more “red” orientation. The question is whether that will continue in the post-Trump era.

  • The results in VA05 this election were very frustrating, with pre-election polling showing it neck-and-neck, or even with Dr. Cameron Webb (D) up a couple points over far-right Republican Bob Good. Also, the general view was that Republicans in VA05 were bitterly divided because of the nasty nomination fight between Rep. Denver Riggleman (R) and Good this past spring, and also because Riggleman not only didn’t endorse Good, he even flirted with endorsing Biden and/or Webb. And yet, when it came down to it, Good won fairly easily (by >5 points), with the most votes in VA05 ever. Among other things, that shows yet again that Trump brought out his supporters to the polls, and that they had no problem voting for Good, even though Good is really “out there,” far to the right of even conservatives like Riggleman.
  • As for Dr. Cameron Webb, he got the most votes ever (189,382) for a Democrat in VA05 – although only the fourth-most votes (behind Good, Republican Tom Garrett in 2016 and Republican Robert Hurt in 2012) in the district as currently constituted.
  • Bottom line: Dr. Webb ran an excellent campaign, but it simply wasn’t enough to overcome the district’s Republican lean and Trump’s ability to bring out huge numbers of his supporters, the vast majority of whom did NOT cross over and vote Trump/Webb, despite Webb’s efforts to convince them to do just that. Frustrating.

  • In VA07, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) appears to have received the most votes ever in the district, as it’s currently constituted…and JUST enough to beat Republican Nick Freitas by about 5k votes.
  • Spanberger also received BY FAR the most ever for a Democrat in VA07, beating her own previous record (176k in 2018) by about 50k votes. Impressive!
  • As for Freitas, he got a lot of votes – about as many as Eric Cantor (R) got in 2012 and Dave Brat (R) got in 2016, but Spanberger simply got more. Freitas, by the way, also lost to Corey Stewart in the 2018 VA GOP primary for U.S. Senate by about 5k votes – ouch.

  • In VA10, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D) received BY FAR the most votes (265k) in the history of the district (as currently constituted).  That’s about 58k more votes than Wexton received in the 2018 “midterms,” when she was first elected, defeating incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R).
  • As for Wexton’s Republican challenger, Aliscia Andrews, she received about 204k votes, which is a bit lower than Comstock’s 211k in 2016 and Frank Wolf’s 214k in 2012.
  • This district really illustrates how wildly turnout – and results – can swing by election cycle. For instance, in 2014, Democratic nominee John Foust received just under 90k votes, and Republican Barbara Comstock got just 126k votes, for a total of 223k votes. In stark contrast, this election saw Democrat Jennifer Wexton with nearly three times Foust’s 2014 vote total, and with Aliscia Andrews nearly 80k votes higher than Comstock in 2014. In short, elections are determined to a large degree by who turns out, since we’re not even close to 100% turnout, and often WAYYY below that.


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