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In ‘deep blue’ Virginia, the race for governor is too close to call

In ‘deep blue’ Virginia, the race for governor is too close to call

Jeff Greenfield:

Hari, one of the reasons Democrats are so unsettled about this very close race is that Virginia has in recent years become a reliably blue state. Biden won it by 10 points last year. Virginia hasn’t sent a Republican to the Senate since 2002, the last two governors of a Democratic, and they control both houses of the state legislature. But if you look at history, you might find that what passed may not be prolog, not in Virginia and maybe not anywhere else.

When Virginia voted for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, it marked the beginning of an almost unbroken run of Republican victories. For 36 years, only Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide broke the string; even southerners Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton couldn’t win there.

But over time, a steady migration of college-educated white-collar voters moved into Northern Virginia, changing the demographics of the state.

When Barack Obama comfortably won the state in 2008, it marked the beginning of an unbroken run of Democratic wins; the “red wall” had crumbled.

That’s just one of a host of examples where the certainties of past election seasons erode and then vanish. California was once one of the most reliably Republican states; From 1952 through 1988, it went to Democrats only once in ten presidential elections; and put Republicans into the statehouse and the U.S. Senate regularly.

Then Bill Clinton won California in 1992; a shift away from Republicans’ anti-immigration views and an increase in liberal-minded college-educated voters triggered a collapse of the Republican Party. Hillary Clinton carried the state by more than 4 million votes; Joe Biden by more than 5 million votes. Republicans do not hold a single statewide office.

But the myth of the red and blue walls is bipartisan. Throughout the 2016 campaign, Democrats were confident that Hillary Clinton would prevail because of the “blue wall” in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. They had voted Democratic for six straight elections.

But that year, all three went to Donald Trump by narrow margins; helping him to win the White House. Last year, Biden won all three by narrow margins, making the blue wall there now, ‘purple.’

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