Home 2024 Elections Sam Shirazi: Virginia “Super Tuesday” Recap – Strengths, Warning Signs, etc.

Sam Shirazi: Virginia “Super Tuesday” Recap – Strengths, Warning Signs, etc.

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by Sam Shirazi

Yesterday, “Super Tuesday” 2024, President Joe Biden won the Virginia Democratic primary overwhelmingly – with 89% of the vote. His opponent in the general election, Donald Trump, won the Virginia Republican primary with 63% of the vote, with Trump’s only remaining GOP rival, Nikki Haley, getting 35% of the vote.

Both results were roughly what was expected, although under the hood there are some clues about both candidates’ strengths – and also warning signs for each in Virginia and beyond.

Biden’s Strengths

For the President, the best result was his strong showing with African-American voters. In heavily African-American precincts, Biden consistently cleared 90%, reaching 93.5% of the vote in Petersburg, which has the largest African-American population of any locality in Virginia.

This is obviously good news and shows that this core part of Biden’s base is sticking with him, just as they have throughout his career. That is not to say Biden should take them for granted, or that he should not work to turn them out in November – but it  does show that Biden has a strong foundation to build on.

Another Biden bright spot was among the affluent and college-educated voters in the suburbs, particularly in Northern Virginia. Yesterday, Biden cleared 90% of the vote in precincts with more college-educated voters in places like Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church.

These are all obviously deep-blue localities, and Biden’s continued strength with theses voters will be an important part of his coalition in the November general election. They are also the types of voters Haley did well with, giving Biden an opportunity to pick up some of her supporters now that she has dropped out.

Biden’s Warning Signs

It was not all good news for President Biden, as there were signs that he has issues with two groups in Virginia – younger progressive voters and the Muslim and Arab community.

In terms of younger progressive voters, there were signs of issues in college towns, particularly Harrisonburg, where Biden got just 73% of the vote. There were also signs in the Metro corridors of Arlington, around places like Ballston and Pentagon City, where Election Day precinct results had Biden around 80%.

Election Day precinct data also showed some issues with Muslim and Arab voters, particularly in the greater Dulles area, which has a concentration of these voters. This dragged Biden’s county-wide total in Loudoun to 82% – still very high, but lower than his statewide percentage overall.

These were issues that were also apparent in last week’s Michigan primary. Obviously, Biden is in a much stronger position in Virginia, and issues with these two groups would not be enough for him to lose here. But they are warning signs that he has work to do, particularly in states that are much closer like Michigan.

Trump’s Strengths

Trump continues to show that he has a special appeal to white, working-class voters, particularly in rural areas. For instance, in Buchanan County in far Southwest Virginia, Trump got nearly 96% of the vote.

This was always expected, as this part of Appalachia is the core of “Trump country.” But Trump also performed relatively well in some parts of Virginia that are less red. Trump was, for instance, able to win almost all of Hampton Roads and the Richmond suburbs. While Haley did get some votes here, Trump ultimately carrying them denied Haley a stronger performance in Virginia.

All this shows that Trump still has a large following in Virginia among the GOP base. For all the efforts to rebrand the Virginia GOP during the Youngkin era, it’s clear that most Virginia GOP voters wanted to stick with Trump.

Trump’s Warning Signs

Trump continues to bleed support in Northern Virginia, where Haley got over 70% in places like Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church. While Haley didn’t win outer Northern Virginia (e.g., places like Loudoun and Prince William), she got a large number of votes and won the biggest locality in Virginia – Fairfax County.

All this confirms that the Trump brand continues to be toxic in the core parts of Northern Virginia, with no sign that that situation will change this year. These vote-rich areas have turned Virginia from a pure tossup to a light-blue state, and likely will mean that President Biden will win in November without having to invest much in Virginia.

Thus, for the third consecutive presidential election with Trump on the ballot, Virginia is not going to be a top-tier presidential battleground state. However, some of the issues Biden and Trump saw in the Virginia primary will likely affect other, more-competitive states, and could give us clues about what might end up happening in November.

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