Could Trump Turn Virginia Red in 2024? There Might Be a Way.

AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File

Virginia last backed a Republican for president in 2004, when the Old Dominion's Electoral College votes went to George W. Bush. Since then, the state has been a safe bet for Democrat candidates, but then, in 2021, something happened: A Republican upstart named Glenn Youngkin took on former Governor Terry McAuliffe and won, becoming Virginia's first Republican governor since 2009. That doesn't seem like all that long a time for the Democrats to hold the governorship of a state, but Virginia has, in that time, become a pretty reliably Democratic state.


But Governor Youngkin is doing pretty well in the Old Dominion. His approval ratings are good, he's young, charismatic, and has a viable replacement in Winsome Sears should he decide to take a new gig - say, as a VP candidate. Now, maybe partly because of Youngkin's success, the Trump campaign is looking hard at possibly flipping Virginia to red in the 2024 presidential contest:

Whether Virginia backs Donald Trump or Joe Biden shouldn’t even be a discussion.

The state hasn’t backed a Republican for president since George W. Bush in 2004.

But early polls showing Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, cutting into the Democratic president’s lead have served as a wake-up call for Virginia Democrats, who acknowledge headwinds with voters dissatisfied with Biden’s leadership. Republicans say that if Virginia is even remotely on the table for Trump, Biden is in serious trouble in traditional battleground states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The Wall Street Journal, I think, misses an important point here: It's likely as not that voters are dissatisfied not only with Biden's leadership (or the lack thereof) but also with his mental health. The president's ongoing physical and mental deterioration is growing more and more obvious as we get closer to the election--even worse for the Biden camp, the debates, where befuddled old Joe will face an energized Trump out for a reckoning. Biden won't have note cards or a teleprompter to keep him focused.


There's another factor: Virginia's Republican governor is rumored to be on Donald Trump's shortlist for the vice presidency.

See Related: Tales of the McCabe: If Trump Picks Youngkin He Sets Up a 12-Year Ticket 

Shock Polls: Trump Edges Biden in Two Blue States That Haven't Gone With the GOP for President in Decades

Virginia Republicans (of course) think there is a possibility here:

“I think Virginia can be a real possibility” for Republicans, said Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group that supports center-leaning House Republicans. “Northern Virginia is so Democratic, and that’s where the numbers are, so, I’m not there yet,” on Trump winning it. But, she added: “The Trump team is doing the right thing, and let’s see how it all plays out.”

According to a Roanoke College poll conducted in mid-May, Biden and Trump are tied at 42% support each in a head-to-head matchup in Virginia. Biden holds a two-point lead against his rival when other candidates are included. A Fox News Voter Analysis poll of registered voters, conducted from June 1 to 4, also found Biden tied with Trump. 

It's a tall order. In 2020, Joe Biden overwhelmed Donald Trump by 10 points in Virginia. But as the song goes, the times, they are a' changing. Joe Biden has a record to defend now - and it's not a good one.


The polling, yes, is close, and Trump has historically outperformed polls. I'm still skeptical about the chances of flipping Virginia, but were I advising the Trump campaign, a role about which no one has approached me, I would say that their best chances involve a look at the Old Dominion's 2020 electoral map. The challenge is simple: Leverage enough rural, small-town, and suburban votes to overcome Richmond, the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, and the deep-blue DC suburbs.

Like so many states, Virginia is a big red state with a few heavily populated blue dots. A few of Trump's traditional huge rallies around the peripheries of those blue dots, along with a vigorous, get-out-the-vote campaign in the red counties, might - just might - be enough to turn the tide. Gaining Virginia's electoral votes would require flipping a lot of those suburban folks, and the right approach, with an emphasis on jobs, schools, and hammering the immigration issue, may be the right approach - not just in Virginia but also in places like Wisconsin and Michigan. Adding Glenn Youngkin to the ticket might be enough to seal the deal.

One thing is certain: Watch Virginia on election night. As an eastern state, results should be coming in early in the evening, and if perchance Trump does flip Virginia, we will know early on that two things are happening: First, there is a Trump landslide in the making, and second, the Democrats are in for a long, tough night.


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