For the past three presidential elections, Virginia has been a battleground state. And since 1932, as Loudoun goes, so goes the commonwealth.
That put Loudoun square in the spotlight of all the recent campaigns. In 2008, Barack Obama held the largest political rally in county history at Ida Lee Park. On Election Day eve four years ago, thousands of supporters gathered at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds waiting until after midnight to be part of Donald J. Trump’s final pre-election rally.
Also during the past decade, Mike Pence, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden all made campaign stops in Loudoun.
However, Loudoun wasn’t on anyone’s schedule in 2020.
And, as pundits prepare for the nation’s most unusual election, none are particularly concerned about the Old Dominion this year.This time, Virginia is viewed as a solidly blue state.
It’s a transition three decades in the making.
In the 1980s, Virginia was a solid red state and support in Loudoun was a sure bet for Republican candidates. Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter with a 12.7% advantage 1980 and then trampled Walter Mondale by a 25.2% margin four years later. George H.W. Bush landed 20% more of the statewide vote than Michael Dukakis in 1988. In each of those three presidential elections, Loudouners backed the Republican candidates by 2-to-1 margins over Democrats.
Loudoun’s and Virginia’s support for the GOP continued through the ‘90s, but the margins narrowed significantly. Bush won Loudoun by 12% over Bill Clinton in 1992 and won Virginia by just 4.4% in 1992. Bob Dole secured 52% of the Loudoun vote in his 1996 bid to unseat Clinton and won the statewide ballot by 1.9%.
In 2000, 60% of Loudoun voters backed George W. Bush over Al Gore. Bush won the state by 8%. Those results held four years later when Bush got 55% of the Loudoun vote and won the state by 8.2%.
It was Obama’s 2009 campaign that flipped the state. For the first time since Lyndon Johnson’s victory in 1964, Virginia and Loudoun backed the Democratic ticket. Obama got 53.5% of Loudoun’s vote and won the state by 6.3%. He continued to win over more than half of Loudoun voters in his re-election bid four years later, but the statewide margin narrowed to 3.9%.
In 2016, nearly 55% of Loudoun voters backed Hillary Clinton over Trump. She won the state by 5.3%.