The ballots are hidden, but when he went to the polls at Lyles-Crouch Elementary School early on Super Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner made no secret of whom he was supporting.
“I voted for Hillary Clinton,” said Warner. “We need somebody with a sophisticated view of how we deal with terrorism and Russia re-emerging as a superpower.”
Warner said he favored what he saw as Clinton’s strengths in economic recovery and higher education. Warner wasn't the only one. Throughout Virginia, Clinton won 64.3 percent of the vote, with Sanders coming in a distant second with 35.2 percent. In Alexandria, Clinton won 69.49 percent of the vote. With 16,281 votes, more than were cast for all of Republican candidates together, Alexandria fell decidedly into the Clinton camp.
Among the Republicans, Donald Trump won the state with 34.7 percent of the vote, prevailing over Marco Rubio’s 31.9 percent. That popularity wasn’t reflected in Alexandria though, where Rubio won the plurality of the city with 46.83 percent of the vote. With 18 percent of the vote, Trump fell to third in the city behind John Kasich’s 23 percent.
Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership at George Mason University, wrote in an email that Alexandria’s preference for Clinton and Rubio largely stems from Northern Virginia’s need for federal stability.
“It should be noted that whomever is elected will have a disproportionate impact on [Northern] Virginia — because of the vast federal complex, including DARPA, the Pentagon, etc.,” said Shafroth, “so Virginia voters have tended to be both moderate — in both the Democratic and Republican parties — in their leanings which clearly work to Mrs. Clinton's and Sen. Rubio's benefits.”
While Virginia still went for Trump, Shafroth says Northern Virginia still played a big role in making that a closer victory than it might have otherwise been.
“Sen. Rubio has made it a much tighter race than many had predicted,” said Shafroth. “A significant part of the surprise — especially compared to the other, earlier southern states (and Georgia tonight) appears to come from the significant increase in voter registration over the last year in more urban Virginia locales: nearly 50 percent in Williamsburg City, Harrisonburg City, Fredericksburg, Loudoun County, and Charlottesville. That means there are likely disproportionate numbers of graduate and post graduate voters who participated in the primaries — and greater minority voting in the Democratic primary. In contrast, there were few increases, and actually some declines in voter registration in more rural parts of the state — places where, as in Georgia and Alabama, Mr. Trump ran in a commanding fashion. At least to date, Mr. Trump's appeal does not appear to have excited moderate, conservative voters: if anything, it seems to have scared them.”