Home 2019 Elections Virginia Dems Turnout Surged During the Trump Presidency, Resulting in a Massive...

Virginia Dems Turnout Surged During the Trump Presidency, Resulting in a Massive Winning Streak. Now What?

Will turnout fall back again? If so, will that lead to Virginia not being so "blue" anymore?


The following graphic, by VPAP, shows that turnout surged in Virginia following Trump’s election. Also, as VPAP notes:

“…high turnout — combined with two redistricting legal victories at the end of the decade — proved favorable for the Democratic Party of Virginia. During the Trump era, Virginia Democrats won five elections for statewide office; flipped 21 seats in (and gained control of) the Virginia House of Delegates; gained two seats in (and control of) the Virginia Senate; and turned a 3-8 minority in the U.S. House of Representatives into a 7-4 majority.”

Thus, in 2017, Democrats swept the gubernatorial, AG and LG races, while picking up 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. Then, in 2018, Sen. Tim Kaine was reelected by a wide margin (over Republican Corey Stewart) while Democrats won VA02 (Elaine Luria defeated Republican Scott Taylor), VA07 (Abigail Spanberger defeated Republican Dave Brat) and VA10 (Jennifer Wexton defeated Republican Barbara Comstock). Then, in 2019, Democrats took back the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates.  Finally, in 2020, Joe Biden clobbered Donald Trump in Virginia, while Sen. Mark Warner was reelected easily (over Republican Daniel Gade) and Democrats held all their U.S. House seats.

In contrast, back in 2013, while Democrats barely won the three statewide offices, the results were abysmal for House of Delegates. In 2014, it was a disaster across the country, while here in Virginia it was very bad as well, with Sen. Mark Warner coming within a whisker of losing reelection. Then, in 2015, we had another bad election for Democrats, this time for House of Delegates and State Senate. And in 2016, despite Hillary Clinton winning Virginia, the election generally sucked otherwise.

Sensing a pattern here? Pre-Trump, Virginia Democrats mostly turned out in presidential election years, with very low turnout in off/odd-year elections for the General Assembly, and not necessarily great turnout in “mid-terms” either. During the Trump presidency, Virginia Democrats turned out in droves, and as the saying goes, “when we vote, we win.” So…what’s next? Post-Trump, will turnout fall back closer to how it was pre-Trump? If so, will the dropoff in voter turnout be symmetrical between parties, or will one or the other see a greater dropoff? Whatever the answer is, it will have enormous implications in 2021 and beyond for:

  • which party controls the Virginia House of Delegates (and in 2023, the State Senate as well)
  • whether Democrats are able to hold on to “swing”/”purple” districts like VA02 and VA07
  • whether Democrats are able to sweep all three statewide offices, and if so by strong or weak margins?

Stay tuned…and more importantly, stay engaged!


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