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Votes

Not-So-Super Tuesday

Turnout for Virginia's presidential preference primary was lowest in recent memory.

Election Day is in November.

Election Day is in November. Photo by Michael Lee Pope.

With two of the major candidates in the Republican presidential contest failing to qualify for the ballot in Virginia, Super Tuesday was anything but super. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the state and all 46 delegates up for grabs. But it wasn't the blowout that many predicted. Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul was able to capture more than 40 percent of the vote, an indication of Romney's weakness among Republican voters.

“The Virginia Republican nomination process pretty consistently moves in the direction of the most conservative nominee,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at Mary Washington University. “As a result, if Virginia had a larger number of candidates on the ballot, it's not clear to me that Virginia would get the attention that other states are going to get in this process.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was leading in some Virginia polls when he failed to qualify, and some believe that he may have been able to secure a victory in the Old Dominion if he had been able to qualify for the ballot. But his ballot petitions were rejected when the Republican Party of Virginia determined that he had not met the threshold required under Virginia law.

“If you can't get your paperwork in that shows a shortcoming in your election process,” said Republican Townsend Van Fleet. “So I don't feel bad for the people who didn't get their paperwork in.”

Romney won all precincts in Alexandria and all precincts in Arlington except Ashton Heights. But Paul showed surprising strength in Fairfax County, winning in various spots throughout the sprawling county. Overall the Texas congressman won 12 counties and four cities, including Manassas Park City in Northern Virginia. As election returns were being posted Tuesday night, Romney supporters rejected the idea that the Virginia primary was meaningless.

“I don't think it's an empty victory at all,” said Ken VonSchaumburg, who votes at the Alexandria City Hall precinct. “That's part of the strategy. Everybody could have participated here in Virginia, and for whatever reason or another they didn't.”