March 1, 2016
When I first started using the delegate estimating tools in December, trying to figure out what would happen if Trump took 3 of the first 4 states, the path to a Rubio recovery ran through Virginia.
A month later, I spent some time calculating how Bernie could pull off an epic upset. His path ran through Virginia too. It wasn’t easy to see either winning in the deep south, but at the time, it looked like both Rubio and Sanders could leverage the over-educated populace.
The data indicates both are in for a disappointment today. Let’s see how close they’ll get to salvaging things:Democrats
Hillary Clinton 66.1%
Figuring on this as a Bernie possibility was always a mistake. I forgot Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe was the governor. I didn’t adjust enough for Hillary’s strength with African American voters.
I overlooked how the wealthy denizens of Northern Virginia would feel about Bernie’s tax policy. I didn’t account for timing. Instead of being part of Super Tuesday, Virginia was linked to Maryland and D.C in the Potomac Primary back in 2008.
All of these things make the state more Hillary-friendly than I’d figured. On top of that, this was only in play as a possible super-narrow Bernie win in a world where he was closely contesting the state, had won Nevada, and was running evenly nationwide.
So she’ll win easily. This runs along Tennessee as the state I miscalculated the most.
Bernie Sanders 33.7%
See above. His hope to get this closer to 60/40 is doing well with West Virginia-adjacent rural white voters. I’m expecting the same type of voter to help him in Oklahoma. My thought is the closer contest there will help him with turnout. Here, they may stay home or cross-over to vote for Trump.
Donald Trump 37.3%
The open primary is going to help him tremendously with Jim Webb Democrats. It’s not New Hampshire, so Republicans will make up the vast majority of voters, but it’s enough to get him past Rubio.
The gap between Trump and Cruz appears much larger than I would have anticipated a couple months ago. This is the state where GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was successfully primaried in 2014.
That should have favored Cruz, but seems to help Trump instead. This puts him out of reach for Rubio to catch, though Marco may have his best percentage showing here.
Trump is in and around 40% in almost all recent polls. No evidence that he’ll fade. This is a big win in a crucial for November state.
Marco Rubio 31.5%
Rubio did everything he was supposed to here. It’s one of the only states where he appeared to actually pick up some post-debate momentum. Usually good debates give him a boost. Usually his polling picks up closer to election day. Not much evidence this time away from Virginia.
Northern Virginia has several of the highest income counties in the country. The population there is diverse and educated. At every event, in every state, the campaign hangs Marco Rubio Country signs. That’s actually true here.
It’s a Reagan throwback. Rubio is framing the race as a contest for the Reagan Revolution’s legacy. Virginia is a very susceptible audience for this argument. Just too much Trump though.
He is extremely well positioned against Cruz though. If he can slip ahead of him in the states closer to Texas, this will help Rubio win the anti-Trump nod on Wednesday morning.
Ted Cruz 17.2%
Many things have not gone the way Team Cruz hoped over the past couple of weeks. Trump has caused him nightmares. South Carolina was a very frustrating third. For all of the places he was supposed to do better, none are a bigger problem than Virginia.
If Cruz is out of the race in 7 to 10 days, Virginia is a microcosm of how it happened. Trump got around him with populist-friendly voters. Ted was unable to lock down evangelicals. Rubio did better with upscale, educated voters.
Ben Carson stayed in and took another slice of voters off the board. Ted had to defend his position in Texas and push elsewhere, keeping him from spending that much time here. Few strong GOP candidates will ever struggle here. This is a bad sign.
John Kasich 7.1%
Kasich made a late visit here to look for non-partisan Northern Virginia Republicans. It’s Rubio-friendly enough that Marco’s stand-up act is going over extra well. Elsewhere, it looks like a small percentage of voters are favoring the governor’s above-the-fray angle.
This isn’t the Deep South, It’s an important swing state. A candidate pulling under 10% here just isn’t a viable nomination prospect.
Ben Carson 6.8%