Electoral votes: 13
2008 Result (%): Obama 52.6-46.3
Voting Pattern Summary
Virginia is a state that many US political pundits have suggested is “turning blue” due to the increase of population in Northern Virginia, an urban area which hugs Washington DC. The Northern Virginia metropolitan area resembles the blue state areas to the north of Virginia and its continued growth has tipped the Old Dominion into the Democratic column.
Other metropolitan areas of the state are Richmond in the centre of the state and the Hampton Roads region in the south-east of the state which itself is centred on Norfolk, home to the largest naval base in the world. The suburbs of both these urban areas also swung Democratic in 2008 and the Republican would be looking to regain votes in these areas.
Republican strength can be found in rural areas in Central and Sothern Virginia and particularly so in South-Western Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley which hugs the state’s western border and are Appalachian by character.
The outcome in 2012 will be determined by Democrats maintaining their turnout gains of 2008, so keep any eye on the urban counties in the below table on election night. The Republicans will be looking to increase their vote in the Appalachian regions of South-west Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley and take back suburban bellwether counties.
The tables of the key counties are below, please click to enlarge.
Most Virginia counties use digital recording devices that do not provide a paper trail which the voter can inspect. A paper trial is produced by these machines but it is only for internal audit and recount purposes by polling officials. A few counties, mostly in Northern Virginia use optical scanning of paper ballots.
There are no automatic recounts in Virginia, however if margin between the candidates is below 1% then a defeated candidate or a group of 50 voters may demand a recount. The candidate or voters who demand a recount must post a bond ($10 per precinct) only to be refunded if the recount changes the vote tally in their favour. In any event the recount is conducted of the paper trail only for DRE machines. Only one recount is permitted and the result after the recount is final under Virginia law. A full summary of recount procedures in Virginia can be found here.
According to the US election project website, the number of early votes cast in Virginia at this election is equivalent to 9.5% of all 2008 votes cast. In 2008 the early vote share of all votes was 12.5%.