NOTE: I originally relied on numbers from the State Board of Elections and the Associated Press for an early version of this post, but apparently those numbers are incomplete for Fairfax County. It is now fixed.
ORIGINAL POST: There was a lot of chatter this year about Northern Virginia’s crucial role in the election, and now that the numbers are in, we know this: It certainly made all the difference in who won Virginia, if not the country, for the second straight presidential election.
Mitt Romney won the Rest of Virginia by almost 94,000 votes on election night. But in the four counties and five cities that make up the State of NoVa, Obama beat Romney by nearly 231,000 votes. That provided Obama’s 137,000-vote margin of victory in Virginia.
Obama won more than 315,000 votes in Fairfax County, a 5,000-vote increase over 2008, while Romney increased his Fairfax haul by about
33,000 6,000 over what John McCain won four years ago. Turnout in Fairfax was up 4.1 percent. (An early version of this post relied on incomplete numbers from the State Board of Elections and the Associated Press, which omitted 92,500 absentee and provisional ballots).
Romney also far outperformed McCain in RoVa (the Rest of Va.). McCain only won RoVa by 1,500 votes in 2008, compared to Romney’s 93,943 margin. But NoVa cast 28 percent of the votes in the state, and Obama won more than 60 percent of that bloc for the second time.
Statewide, Obama won Virginia by 137,132. But he won by 232,317 in 2008. That’s a drop of more than 95,000 votes. Republicans flipped Montgomery County, Va., and Virginia Beach this year. But the 656,574 Democratic votes in NoVa, combined with blue enclaves around Charlottesville, Richmond and Norfolk, overwhelmed the all-red Rest of Va.
Also, in previously unreleased Virginia exit poll findings from The Post, we learn that statewide voters identifying themselves as Democrats outnumber Republicans by six or seven percentage points in presidential election years, but Republicans have the upper hand in the off-year governor elections. And the number of voters identifying themselves as liberal was up to 24 percent, compared to 31 percent conservative, but that ratio was 17 to 38 just eight years ago..
More NoVa numbers and more from The Post poll of Virginia voters after the jump:
Within our standard NoVa boundary of Alexandria-Arlington-Fairfax-Loudoun-Prince William we include Fairfax City, Falls Church City, Manassas City and Manassas Park. That’s nine jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, all nine of which went for Obama. The closest was Loudoun, with 51.4 percent for Obama. Romney won 11,000 more votes in Loudoun than John McCain did, and ended with 47 percent to McCain’s 45.6 percent.
Turnout in NoVa was up 5.6 percent over 2008, which was about 58,000 more votes. Obama won NoVa with 60.7 percent, to Romney’s 39.3 percent.
Overall in NoVa, Romney increased the Republican vote haul by 30,000, while Obama increased his total by about 27,500, out of about 1.1 million total votes cast in Northern Virginia. Statewide, 3.8 million votes were cast, a 3.2 percent increase..
So Romney lost NoVa by 230,934. That’s only slightly better than the 233,833 margin for McCain in 2008. That year, McCain only won RoVa by 1,500 votes, so his loss in NoVa accounted for almost his entire statewide margin of defeat. This year, Romney’s big win in RoVa narrowed his statewide margin of defeat.
Here’s how NoVa voted this year, with 2008 in parentheses (updated 10 a.m. with local county board numbers, where available):
Alexandria: O -- 52,134, 71.1% (50,473); R - 20,205, 27.6% (19,181)
Arlington: O - 81,178, 69.1% (78,994); R - 34,433, 29.3% (29,876)
Fairfax Co: O - 315,268, 59.7% (310,350); R - 206,773, 39.1% (200,994)
Fairfax City: O - 6,636, 57.2% (6,571); R - 4,764, 41.1% (4,686)
Falls Church: O - 5,006, 68.9% (4,695); R - 2,141, 29.5% (1,970)
Loudoun: O - 81,840, 51.4% (74,607); R - 74,794, 47.0% (63,328)
Manassas: O - 8,478, 55.8% (7,518); R - 6,463, 42.5% (5,975)
Manassas Park: O - 2,873, 61.8% (2,463); R - 1,696, 36.5% (1,634)
Prince William: O - 103,161, 57.3% (93,386); R - 74,371, 41.3% (67,589)
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NoVa: O - 656,574, 60.7% (629,066); R - 425,640, 39.3% (395,233)
RoVa: O - 1,303,024, 48.3% (1,329,304); R - 1,396,967, 51.7% (1,330,820)
All Of Va.: O - 1,959,357, 51.1% (1,958,370); R - 1,822,225, 47.5% (1,726,053)
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Here are some notes from Post pollster Peyton Craighill on Virginia voters statewide:
Party - The partisan composition of Virginia looks very similar to 2008; 39-32-29 Dem-Rep-Ind. That +7 Dem advantage is actually one point wider than in 2008. The party split looks nothing like the 2009 governor race (-4 Dem). The number of independents increased from 27 to 29 percent of the electorate and they went to Romney by 11 points, 54-43 Romney-Obama. That’s one of the biggest swings from 2008 when Obama was about even among independents, 49-48 Obama-McCain. But in 2012 Obama maximized his vote among Democrats, going from an 84-point victory margin in 2008 to 88 points. That was enough to ensure victory.
Ideology - The number of voters identifying as liberal increased to 24 percent, the most we’ve seen in any Virginia exit polls. They are still outnumbered by conservatives at 31 percent. But the ideological composition of the state is swinging sharply. In 2004 the composition was 17-45-38 liberal-moderate-conservative. That swung to 24-45-31. And the growing numbers of liberals are now backing Obama by a much larger margin than in the past. In 2004 for example, John Kerry had a 66 point margin over George W. Bush among liberals. Obama’s liberal margin is now 86 points, better than in any race going back to 1996.
Education - Obama’s support slipped among voters without a college degree, from a positive 54-45 margin over McCain in 2008 to about even at 49-50 with Romney. White non-college voters are especially weak for Obama, going from a big 34 point deficit in 2008 to an even bigger 44 point deficit. (Obama continues to do well with college graduates.)
Economic outlook - Virginia voters are a little less gloomy than voters nationally about the economy. In Virginia 69 percent rate the economy as not so good or poor. It reaches 77 percent nationally. Either way that is a lot of economic discontent, but those who are most unhappy - 27 percent who said “poor” - went to Romney by 92-6. Among those who say the economy is just “not so good” broke about evenly between Obama and Romeny, 48-51. Among the 30 percent who have positive ratings of the economy went 90-9 for Obama. For Romney to win, he had to do better among those who were more marginally discontent.