Clinton Continues To Show That Virginia Probably Isn’t A Swing State This Year

Another poll confirms that Virginia is firmly in the pocket of Hillary Clinton.

Virginia Flag Map

Eight years ago, Virginia turned into a swing state when Barack Obama became the first Democrat to win the state in a Presidential election since Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide win, a feat he repeated four years later. In both elections, Virginia was the site of hard fought battles between Republicans and Democrats that went to the Democrat seemingly at the last minute. This time around, with Donald Trump leading the Republican ticket, Clinton seems to be walking away with the state:

Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead over Donald Trump in Virginia, with disdain for the Republican presidential nominee helping Clinton overcome her own vulnerabilities, a new Washington Post poll finds.

Clinton leads Trump by a 14-point margin — 52 percent to 38 percent — among registered voters in the state and by an eight-point margin among likely voters, 51 percent to 43 percent. Clinton’s edge dips to seven points among likely voters when third-party candidates are included.

Aside from the rural southwestern part of the state, Clinton’s lead spans all regions, most by a wide margin. She trounces Trump among minority voters, and slashes the advantage Republicans usually count on among whites in Virginia.

The results suggest how difficult it could be for the GOP nominee to win what had been considered a crucial swing state. Virginia had gone red for presidential candidates for decades until Barack Obama broke the streak in 2008 and won it again in 2012. With its changing demographics, especially in the fast-growing suburbs around Washington, the state may not even be competitive for Trump.

That would be bad news for Trump, whose path to the White House would be much more difficult without Virginia and its 13 electoral votes. To compensate, he would have to pick up support from other states, such as Pennsylvania, that have been far less friendly to Republicans.

The poll finds Trump’s negative image hampering his ability to unite Republicans and to grow support beyond GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s standing in 2012, when he lost to Obama 51 percent to 47 percent in Virginia. Trump has slightly more support than Romney did in solidly Republican rural parts of the state, but the real-estate developer’s unpredictable campaign has turned off some reliably Republican voters elsewhere.

Walt Purnell, 71, a retired business executive from Ashburn, had hoped to vote for Jeb Bush — or John Kasich. Or Marco Rubio. Or Chris Christie. But Trump? No way.

“I think he’s a failure, I think he’s a fraud, I think he’s a con artist, I think he’s insane,” Purnell said.

Clinton’s advantage comes despite weaknesses in her personal popularity. Fifty-four percent of registered voters report an unfavorable impression of the former secretary of state while 44 percent view her favorably. Yet Trump is significantly worse off, with twice as many negative ratings as positive ones, 65 percent to 32 percent. A 56 percent majority view Trump in a “strongly unfavorable” light, 13 points higher than for Clinton.

Clinton also may benefit from the popularity of her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), a former governor who maintains a favorable-unfavorable image of 54 percent to 37 percent in the state, similar to his standing during his 2012 Senate race. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is not nearly as well known, and voters split 37 percent to 34 percent favorable-unfavorable toward him.

The vast majority of voters say the selections of Kaine and Pence as running mates will not influence their vote, but 26 percent say Kaine makes them more likely to back Clinton, compared with 15 percent who say Pence is a motivator to support Trump.

Not surprisingly, Clinton’s support cuts across nearly all regions of the state except one, which also happens to be the least populated area of the state, additionally this poll indicates that Trump continues to have problems getting Republicans united behind his candidacy:

Virginia’s regional divisions also underscore Trump’s challenges. He maintains a 26-point edge in the southwestern part of the state, slightly larger than Romney’s 22-point edge and an area where more than six in 10 voters dislike Clinton.

Beyond this reliably Republican region, Clinton has the potential to accumulate a nearly insurmountable vote margin in the inner Washington suburbs, leading by 45 points over Trump, compared with Obama’s 26-point edge in 2012. Clinton holds a seven-point edge in the Washington exurbs that include Loudoun and Prince William counties, which split evenly between Obama and Romney. She also appears stronger than Obama in the Tidewater region, which encompasses Norfolk and Virginia Beach, leading Trump by a 2-to-1 margin compared with Obama’s low double-digit victory there four years ago. At least two-thirds of voters in both the D.C. suburbs and Tidewater have a strongly unfavorable view of Trump.

Beyond long-term challenges, Virginia Democrats and Republicans are not equally united behind their nominees this year. Clinton garners support from 93 percent of Democrats, while Trump stands at 81 percent of Republicans. Although 86 percent of Democrats who wanted Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) to win the party’s primary support Clinton against Trump in a two-way race, Trump stands at 69 percent support among Republicans who wanted a different candidate to win the primary.

These numbers aren’t entirely surprising, of course. Earlier this month a CBS News poll showed Clinton with a twelve point lead in the Commonwealth and similar underlying demographics as well. In fact, according to RealClearPolitics, Trump has not led in a single General Election poll in Virginia since pollsters started surveying Virginia more than a year ago, the closest he’s gotten is a handful of polls that showed him tied with Clinton or showed the race within the margin of error. Those days appear to be long over, though, as Clinton has consistently solidified her lead here ever since the two candidates sewed up their respective party nominations two months ago. As things stand right now, for example, Clinton has a ten point lead in the poll average in a head-to-head match against Trump and a 10.3 point lead over Trump in a four way race that includes Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. If these numbers hold up, then Virginia will end up being more solidly blue, at least in Presidential races, than it has been in quite some time.

As I’ve discussed before, if Virginia truly is off the table, and it certainly is beginning to look that way, then Trump’s options for getting to 270 Electoral Votes become increasingly difficult. Under previous scenarios, a Republican candidate could win this year if this managed to hold on to all of the states that Mitt Romney won in 2012 and then went on to win Florida, Ohio, and Virginia plus at least one state that had gone for Obama in 2012. With Virginia off the table, the path to 270 becomes much more difficult. Trump’s campaign has long talked about a path through the industrial Midwest, but with Clinton presently holding strong leads in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and seemingly surging in Ohio and Florida, although that state remains competitive at the moment, that particular path to victory. Additionally, Clinton’s strong numbers in Colorado and Nevada appear for the moment to be cutting off any possibility of Trump flipping either of those states at the moment either. Even worse for the GOP, though, is the fact that several reliably red states appear to be in doubt because of the fact that Trump is at the top of the ticket. Clinton holds a modest lead right now in North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia, for example, and appears to be far more competitive than a Democrat would otherwise be at this point in states such as Arizona, Missouri, South Carolina, and Utah. This is potentially a huge problem for Republicans because it means that they are likely going to be faced with the choice of expending resources to defend red states from flipping in the Presidential race and protecting incumbents in down ballot races in states where Clinton is already likely to win. One sign of this case seen in the fact that both the Clinton campaign and the principal SuperPAC supporting her are cutting back on their ad buys in Virginia and Colorado and apparently moving those resources to more competitive states, including the aforementioned red states that they appear to have a chance of flipping. With that kind of bleeding going on in his own ranks, the Presidency appears to be slipping further and further away from Trump even before we enter the all-important period after Labor Day. By the time we get there, Trump could be so far behind that it may not matter what he does.


FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jeremy says:

    At least this means I can vote third party without worrying about Trump possibly taking my state.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    If you were to put this in military terms it looks like Germany around February or March of 1945. Trump is losing on absolutely every front of the war. He is weak or done in every single swing state. He is behind Romney in every single demographic. Yes, including white men.

    He has no ground game, anywhere. His few surrogates are absolute morons scraped from the bottom of the barrel. The leadership of his own party treats him like a leper.

    He has no strategy, clearly. As he kisses Virginia and Colorado goodbye, he’s off to Connecticut and Milwaukee. He’s Hitler in the bunker moving phantom armies around the board and fantasizing that this or that event will magically save the day. He still half-believes that the sound of his voice will summon vast new armies. His few remaining ardent supporters consider whether they should take cyanide or go with a bullet to the brain. His less ardent supporters are trying to figure out how to surrender to Johnson or McMullen and not the dread Red Queen.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:

    His few surrogates are absolute morons scraped from the bottom of the barrel.

    TPM had a thing on this guy telling Fox News that Trump is acting Presidential.
    So I looked him up…I’m not sure he’s ever been in the same building as a President.
    He may not be a moron….not like Jenos level moronic…but he is definitely bottom of the barrel.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    And then you have Rudolph 9/11 who says there were no terrorist attacks on US soil before Obama…talk about a f’ing marroon.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Around my house we’ve decided it’s the mirror image of what they used to call Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field. Trump’s version is an ability to make white men go stupid. Exposure to Trump can cut a white male’s IQ by about 50% and memory by 90%. Watch our friend @Guarneri – he was clueless when he was backing Romney, but now he’s just a moron.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    The way for Dems to put a nail in this coffin is to attack those Senators, who are up for re-election, and who are being dragged down by Trump…eg Ayotte in NH, or Toomey in PA.
    If the RNC thinks it’s going to lose the Senate they will drop Trump like a 1st period French class…which will just hasten the death spiral he is already in.

  7. Scott F. says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Why would Dems want the RNC to figure this out? Rather than attack these vulnerable candidates, it would be far better to link Ayotte, Toomey, et al, with Trump whenever possible, but to do so affirmatively. “If you want what Trump wants, then Toomey’s your man.” That sort of thing.

    It’s better for liberal governance if Trump drags them down with him. Clinton in a narrow victory with a Democratic Senate is preferable to Clinton with a landslide victory and Republicans thwarting Supreme Court picks.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @Scott F.:
    Valid point…

  9. C. Clavin says:
  10. Franklin says:

    @C. Clavin: Oh, FFS, read some context. Giuliani didn’t forget 9/11 – he mentioned it in like the previous sentence. Yes, he should have said 7.4 years instead of 8, but only dishonest people crucify politicians for this type of simple mistake.

    EDIT: That’s the first and last time I’ll defend Giuliani for anything.

  11. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And here’s Trump’s Twitter response:

    “#Fat Kraut slob Angela Merkel lies about me being a liar! LOSER!”

    Just kidding.

  12. C. Clavin says:

    So…what in fwcks sake does that even mean?
    YOu know…other than 9/11 there weren’t any radical islamic terrorists attacks until Obama?
    Look…Republicans have been trying to gloss over that 9/11 happened on their watch for a long time…Bush and Cheney have both done it. Jeb Bush has done it. Guiliani has been doing it a long time.
    Republicans are all about accountability…for others.
    You know…except for Vietnam, LBJ kept us out of war.
    Makes about as much sense.

  13. SenyorDave says:

    @Franklin: Oh, FFS, read some context. Giuliani didn’t forget 9/11 – he mentioned it in like the previous sentence. Yes, he should have said 7.4 years instead of 8, but only dishonest people crucify politicians for this type of simple mistake.

    Only problem is that its not the first time Guiliani made this “mistake”. He also did in 2010:

    Gee, you’d think he might remember where and when 911 occurred, but I guess it doesn’t fit his narrative.

    When two of your main surrogates are Rudy “a noun, a verb, and 911” Guiliani and Governor krispie kreme, you know you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  14. Neil Hudelson says:


    Thank you! The amount progressives have to contend with explaining to idiot conservatives things like “context” I’ve been pretty disappointed with this Guilianni faux outrage coming from the left.

  15. CSK says:

    Liz Kreutz of ABC news is reporting that Clinton has suspended advertising in Virginia, and will be suspending it in Colorado and Pennsylvania.

  16. CSK says:

    Breaking from the New York Times: Roger Ailes has become an advisor to the Trump campaign. He will be prepping Trump for the first debate on September 26.

  17. michael reynolds says:


    Meanwhile I assume Trump will be heading to New York, California and Massachusetts looking for votes.

  18. Franklin says:

    @C. Clavin: Again, why don’t you try reading the whole context before getting stupid about it?

    If you refuse to read the actual speech, try this for a simple explanation:

    Go ahead and downvote me some more. You know I’m correct, though.

  19. Franklin says:

    @SenyorDave: Yes, we get it. Giuliani bad. Christie bad. Trump bad. Derp, derp, derp.

    What does that have to do with the issue at hand, which is whether Giuliani actually forgot about 9/11? (Which he didn’t.)

  20. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Well, of course he will, Michael. After all, he’s only down 30 points in New York, down 30 points in Massachusetts, and down 22 points in California.


  21. C. Clavin says:

    Thank you for the link.
    From that link:

    But while his phrasing was misleading…

    Again, this was a poorly worded, misleading statement…

    But let me have Trump respond to his own supporter:

    What does that mean ‘he kept the country safe after 9/11?’ In other words, we had this major catastrophe after that. What does that mean ‘after that?’ I don’t know. I’ve heard that for years. … What about during 9/11? I was there. I lost a lot of friends that were killed in that building. The worst attack ever in this country—it was during his Presidency.
    We had the worst attack ever, by the way after that we did Ok. That’s [like saying] the team scored 19 runs in the first inning, but after that we played well. I don’t think so.

    Which is why I put it in CONTEXT in responding to you:

    Look…Republicans have been trying to gloss over that 9/11 happened on their watch for a long time…Republicans are all about accountability…for others.

  22. Grumpy Realist says:

    @CSK: which I’m sure will be taken by Trump’s Chumps as obviously giving up in light of their Dear Leader’s impending landslide…

  23. C. Clavin says:


    Roger Ailes has become an advisor to the Trump campaign.

    The Misogyny Candidate prepped by a serial sexual harasser.
    You can’t make this crap up.
    Clinton may have to double her ad budget just to run all the ads that write themselves.

  24. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And the really hilarious thing is that a lot of the Trumpkins hate Ailes because they felt that Fox was mean and unfair to Trump. Now they have to do a 180 on Ailes. I swear, with all the spinning these people do they must look like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

  25. CSK says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    Oh, indeed. Trump’s down 9.2 points in Pennsylvania, so the Chumpkins regard that as a swing state. They also think Connecticut is “in play.”

  26. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jeremy: Depends on how many other people in your state vote from the same perspective. If the Libertarian party actually got to the 15% they need to get into the debates, it would probably throw the election into the House to resolve.

    This isn’t likely, but protest votes have risk associated–just ask people who live in the UK.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    I am at a loss even to construct a reasonable scenario where Trump can get to 270. Nate Silver’s Polls Only Forecast has Trump short by 102 EVs. It would take a miracle. And it is real hard to conjure a miracle when your favorable/unfavorable number is 28 points underwater. (Hillary’s underwater by 11.)

    We don’t have much recent polling on Ohio, but if the next round of Ohio polling shows Hillary up by something in the 7 point range we can all just tune out for the next 83 days.

    But I’m sure @Guarneri will be along eventually to un-skew the polls as he did so well in 2012.

  28. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Speaking of which, Romney was up 15+ in Texas at this point in 2012, and in fact won the general by 16+.

    As of today, Trump is up only 6 points in Texas. That is a yuuuuge difference. Either it reflects a fairly substantial demographic change, or that fact that even Texas Republicans can’t stand the s.o.b. Maybe both.

  29. CSK says:

    I looked a little further into the Texas situation, and apparently Trump’s only advantage there is with voters over the age of 65. Voters under 65, regardless of sex or ethnicity, prefer Clinton, and those under 45 prefer her overwhelmingly.

    Even cowboys get the blues.

  30. Pete S says:

    @CSK: It probably didn’t help that when Texans started really paying attention to the primary Trump was conducting the same character assassinations on Ted Cruz as he had done successfully against the rest of the field. Cruz may be an unlikable SOB, but I imagine that did little to endear Trump to the Texas electorate.

  31. CSK says:

    Oh, my…the Washington Post is now reporting that Clinton is leading Trump 52-38 among registered voters.

    @Pete S:

    I think Trump’s insinuation that Cruz Senior was involved in the Kennedy assassination must have angered a lot of them.

  32. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m hoping and praying that Hillary gets more than 400 EV. That’s the only sort of blowout that might start to maybe give the Republican Party a hint of a clue. Perhaps.

  33. Gavrilo says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The Misogyny Candidate prepped by a serial sexual harasser.
    You can’t make this crap up.
    Clinton may have to double her ad budget just to run all the ads that write themselves.

    Yes! Hillary Clinton, whose husband once paid $850000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit, should definitely do that. Brilliant!

  34. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    To a Trumpkin, more than 400 EVs for Clinton will simply confirm that the election was stolen. You have to understand that they cannot conceive of a scenario in which he doesn’t legitimately get a 50 state landslide.

  35. C. Clavin says:

    So you are saying that Hillary is a misogynist…and that is the analogy here?

  36. humanoid.panda says:


    I looked a little further into the Texas situation, and apparently Trump’s only advantage there is with voters over the age of 65. Voters under 65, regardless of sex or ethnicity, prefer Clinton, and those under 45 prefer her overwhelmingly.

    This is actually a huge phenomenon that our brave “liberal” media is totally ignoring. The grand theory of Trump is that he represents the rebellion of the white working class against immigration/trade, how come the actual people who are competing against immigrants that the Chinese (and are, on average, much less well off than older people) so much less likely to vote for him than retirees?

  37. C. Clavin says:
  38. dmichael says:

    @Franklin: On the issue of Giuilani’s omission of “9/11” please note his “explanation.”

  39. JKB says:

    Sadly, Virginia state-wide votes are controlled by the dense DC suburbs. And those suburbs are filled with “professional” politcals who are rightly terrified Trump will crash their gravy train.

  40. C. Clavin says:


    “professional” politcals who are rightly terrified Trump will crash their gravy train.

    Yeah…that’s what they are terrified of…

  41. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: Well, we can hope, but the movement cannot fail, it can only be failed. Just ask Mr. Florak.

  42. C. Clavin says:

    A new Monmouth University Poll has Clinton up by 9, in a 4 person race, in Florida.
    Perhaps and outlier…but there is a clear trend.

  43. CSK says:


    Come on; you can’t possibly believe all that asinine hype that Trump’s a man of the people who’s going to Washington to clean out all the grifters and grafters and crony capitalists and “corruptocrats.” Please. Trump is the ultimate crony capitalist and the ultimate “corruptocrat”. He boasts about buying politicians; he’s proud of the fact that he abused eminent domain to try to force an elderly woman out of her home. You think this sleazebag is some kind of working class hero? Do you know how much he despises the middle and working classes? He’s a vulgar arriviste who’s spent his entire life desperately trying to buy his way into the upper echelons of New York society. You can’t do that, but even if you could, Trump would never make the cut. And he’s very unhappy about that.

  44. humanoid.panda says:

    @JKB: Nancy Pfotenauer, is that you?

  45. humanoid.panda says:

    More seriously, I would love to subscribe to JKB’s newsletter and understand why Trump, a candidate that plans
    1. To massively expand military
    2. To “double” HRC’s hypothetical infrastracture investment, is going to end anyone’s gravy train.

  46. humanoid.panda says:

    @CSK: And beyond that, Trump’s entire shtick is that he is a businessman, and he is going to cut deals with everyone and make everyone happy.* He doesn’t even pretend to promise he would do the “run government like a business, cut bureaucrats to bits” crap.

    *** That and the fact that he understands that at this point in time, deficits are good makes him more fit for office than every other republican candidate- if not for his obvious mental incapacity.

  47. Matt says:

    @Franklin: Except there were more terrorist attacks in those “8 years” post 9/11. So his sentence is still wrong..

  48. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I hadn’t realized that Obama had also won in Hampton Roads. Between the military presence and the evangicals around Virginia Beach, I honestly expected that to be the other area of Virginia that stayed red longest.

  49. DrDaveT says:


    Sadly, Virginia state-wide votes are controlled by the dense DC suburbs. And those suburbs are filled with “professional” politcals

    Never actually been to the Virginia DC suburbs, have you? Or do you think that all of those business signs in Korean and Spanish are aimed at “professional politicals”?

    Pro tip — it’s nothing to do with being near DC, and everything to do with being urban. You know, where not everyone is white and/or uneducated?

  50. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    we can all just tune out for the next 83 days.

    No!!! Never relax! Trumps voters are the ones that will show up. Especially the retirees. Remember that the polls showed things quite a bit different than the final results mere days before Both Obama’s victories. Remember that statewide polls are notoriously inaccurate.

  51. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist:

    hat’s the only sort of blowout that might start to maybe give the Republican Party a hint of a clue

    This makes intuitive sense but the one real world example, California, didn’t work out that way. The Repubs paralyzed government for years until the Dems were gradually able to amass a veto proof supermajority. And in response the Repubs have just grown loonier. It’s a vicious cycle if you a) crave power or b) want to get things done or c) want to live in a fact based world, you become a Dem. Only the RWNJ’s are left

  52. Franklin says:

    @C. Clavin: OK, after re-reading your first response to me, I realize you were arguing it was *intentionally* misleading. Your first sentence “what … does that even mean?” originally made me think you were still playing dumb about the context. So apologies for misunderstanding that.

    As I said in my first post, I won’t be defending Giuliani any further than to say he didn’t forget 9/11.

  53. Andrew says:

    It is still a long way away til election day, and while these polls are certainly ones I have never really seen before. Espcially in Texas and Virginia, and other normally Red/Purple states…It is still too soon.

    As far as Giuliani, or any other “Hey look at me! I am a relevant, hip, republican begging to be noticed and sell something, too!” He is basically just using 9/11 as he always has. To score himself points. Before it was nothing else mattered except 9/11. As others have already mentioned with the noun, verb, 9/11 shtick he is most famous for.
    Now, he is just flipping it.
    For the past 8 years Republicans have tried to run as far away from President W. Bush as possible. Even though it’s more or less trying to run away from one’s shadow.
    So…Mr. 9/11 is simply trying to throw shade on that shadow by saying this shite he lets trickle out of his mouth. And frankly… it works. It works with the people he is really talking to. Not the MAJORITY of people in the United States or even the rest of the world. Just the people who will buy his merchandise. After all, he needs to stay relevant in some way. Otherwise he is just Rudy. A sad, old, politician who misses the limelight.

    Fifteen years since, and Rudy has people willing to let the one the most horrific attacks on American soil be used for personal and political gain. Shaking my f’ing head.

    As the saying goes.

    “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

    Fits Rudy to a T.

  54. Jen says:

    Not only is it another three months or so until election day, but the Trump campaign is going through another “reset.”

    I don’t think Clinton will let her guard down one bit.