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Welcome to the Commonwealth of Virginia: the Birthplace of Presidents.
On March 1, Virginia Republicans will vote in the Presidential primary. Well, we hope Republicans will vote. But Virginia has no party registration, so there’s no telling who’s going to be voting in the commonwealth.
You may be aware of the loyalty oath idea for voting in the primary. That’s why: without party registration, there’s not really any way to be sure it’s our people voting in our process. The loyalty oath was the next best thing: a plan to dissuade at at least some of the hostiles from taking part.
So we don’t know who’s voting, and there’s no really telling who’s going to win, either. We’ve had three polls this year as of this writing, according to Real Clear Politics. Trump leads them all, but his lead varies from 6 to 23, and each poll had a relatively large Margin of Error, so they had small sample sizes. That’s not a particularly predictive spread.
49 RNC delegates are at stake, in a purely proportional contest. Unlike states like New Hampshire and South Carolina, which have grossly non-proportional elements, Virginia’s primary has no districts, no thresholds. Just divide out the votes for each candidate by the total votes, multiply by 49, round to the nearest whole number, and that’s how many delegates are awarded. These delegates will only be bound for the first ballot at the convention.
Marco Rubio is devoting personal time to the state. He is making more appearances in Virginia in these final days, than any other Super Tuesday state. He’s making sure to cover different parts of the state: Loudoun (furthest reaches of the Greater DC area), Richmond (the capital), Virginia Beach (big military area), and the southwest (rural).
Donald Trump is skipping the population centers in crunch time and going straight for the southwest, making a single appearance in Radford.
Ted Cruz has made an appearance here, though he’s got almost all of his eggs elsewhere in Texas. John Kasich also came here once, but he visited Democrat-heavy Fairfax County, which hasn’t voted Republican for President since 2000.
Former Governor Jim Gilmore has not endorsed, but he has compared Trump with a fascist. 2017 candidate for Governor Ed Gillespie has not endorsed, either. Former Governor George Allen has endorsed Rubio, and is getting out there to talk up the Senator.
Without a track record of polling, it’s hard to know who’s going to win this state. But we can look at what the candidates are doing, to see what their own internal numbers are showing. With Marco Rubio making such a heavy investment into the state, trying to reach voters statewide, I think it’s clear this state will be “won” (remember, it’s proportional) by Trump or by Rubio.
But it’s likely whoever wins won’t get that many more delegates than the other candidate, so “winning” here is more about getting the bragging rights. Rubio hasn’t won a state yet. Does he want Virginia to be his first? The answer seems to be a clear “Yes.”