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Posted November 7, 2012 | 35 Comments
In purple Virginia, Shenandoah Valley stays bright red
By Jeb Inge
President Barack Obama may have won Virginia en route to his second term late Tuesday, but the Shenandoah Valley didn't help him get there.
Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick counties voted overwhelmingly for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Election Day, as did Clarke, Page and Rappahannock counties. The city of Winchester, however, aligned with Obama, according to unofficial voting results provided by the Virginia Board of Elections.
In a swing state that featured delayed results due to long lines after 7 p.m., Virginia sat most of Tuesday evening uncalled, and watched as Ohio eventually would be the state that led to Obama's reelection. It wasn't until the final precincts reported in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and the all-important Prince William County that Obama's vote totals would push ahead of Romney's. The final tally, with 99 percent of unofficial votes reported, shows Obama netting 1,883,169 votes to Romney's 1,774,954 -- a 50/48 percent spread. Three third party candidates and write-ins account for the remaining 2 percent.
The situation was not as close in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
Combining the voting area of Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Clarke counties, as well as the city of Winchester, Romney trounced Obama 60,836 votes to an even 38,500.
A total of 99,336 votes were cast for a Democrat or Republican, an increase of 1,049 votes from 2008. Then facing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Obama notched more than 41,000 votes. This year, he received nearly three thousand less. Romney did noticeably better than McCain, gaining more than three thousand more votes than McCain won in 2008.
Numbers show that, though Virginia is solidly purple, the valley remains an example of the pre-2008 days when it was a solid Republican afterthought.
That fact is increasingly evident considering the numbers in the U.S. Senate race between former governors Tim Kaine and George Allen. Republican Allen conceded to Democrat Kaine on Tuesday evening, even before the Associated Press called the race, which was nationally marked as a dead heat throughout the campaign.
Final commonwealthwide numbers eventually would validate Allen's concession, with Kaine winning 52 percent of the vote.
But Allen did overwhelmingly well in the Shenandoah Valley. In the same geographic area sampled for the presidential race, Allen beat Kaine by a 20 point margin -- netting 59,930 votes to Kaine's 39,964. There also were 222 write-in votes.
But the regionwide numbers can be deceiving. While Allen trounced Kaine in Frederick and Shenandoah counties by a nearly 2-1 margin, and won easily in Warren and Page counties, the race was much closer in Clarke and Rappahannock counties, and Kaine won Winchester by more than 400 votes.
Though the campaigns of both candidates made stops in the region, more time was spent in areas designated key for the razor-thin senatorial race. Those areas -- Prince William, Henrico, and Loudoun counties -- all went for Obama and Kaine, even while some reelected Republican congressional leaders, such as Reps. Eric Cantor and Frank Wolf.
Prince William County alone posted more votes Tuesday (179,958) than the combined six counties and one city polled in this article (100,116.)
Aside from the presidential and senatorial races, the Shenandoah Valley looked much like the rest of Virginia on the ballot.
Two local congressional races, those in the 6th and 10th districts, resulted in overwhelming reelection for longtime incumbents. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-6) defeated Democratic challenger and Shenandoah County resident Andy Schmookler by nearly 30 percentage points, while Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) defeated Democrat Kristin Cabral and Independent J. Kevin Chisholm with a 58-38-2 percent spread.
Wolf's numbers were especially strong in Frederick County, where he notched almost 71 percent of the vote. Cabral posted her best gains in Northern Virginia, including Manassas Park, where she beat Wolf by a 6-point margin.
There was a wider disparity throughout the 6th District. In a number of southern counties, Goodlatte notched more than 70 percent of the vote, and in Bedford County, the 11-term congressman almost reached 80 percent, only falling 0.4 percentage points short.
Schmookler defeated Goodlatte in the cities of Harrisonburg, Roanoke and Lexington, but lost his home Shenandoah County by 39 percentage points.
In Warren County, which voted in its first election as a part of the 6th District, Goodlatte won handily, with 63 percent of the vote.
Both constitutional amendments on the ballot were passed Tuesday with huge margins.
Statewide, the proposed amendment, which would guarantee that in the case of eminent domain the government pay at least the value of the land in question, passed with 74.7 percent of the vote. Regionally, the amendment passed with 80 percent checking "yes."
The second proposed amendment, which allows the commonwealth legislature leeway in scheduling its veto session around religious holidays, passed across Virginia, and in the region with around 82 percent approval.
Turnout numbers were not available by Wednesday afternoon. All election results used are unofficial and represent 99 percent of precincts reporting across Virginia.
Contact Region Editor Jeb Inge at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org