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Biden Takes Virginia and Richmond in Super Tuesday Rout

Voters stand at booths at school casting ballots
Voters in Matoaca, Virginia cast their ballots in the Democratic presidential primary on Super Tuesday (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Joe Biden cruised to an easy win on Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, riding a wave of momentum after his victory in South Carolina just days before.

African Americans appeared to play a major role in Biden’s victory; about 70% of precincts with a large black voter base swung to Biden, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project. Exit polling from CNN backed that up, showing Biden winning two thirds of Virginia’s black vote.

The preliminary results in the Richmond suburbs mirrored most of the state, with Biden winning over 55% of the vote in Henrico and Chesterfield Counties and about 10 points less in the City of Richmond.

At a watch party at Metro Bar in Richmond, several dozen volunteers, supporters and campaign staff erupted in cheers when CNN called Virginia for Biden moments after the polls closed.

Mayor Levar Stoney urged his party to rally around Biden, saying the former Delaware senator was best positioned to beat President Donald Trump. Stoney attributed Biden’s win to black voters.

“The African American vote was a vital part of his victory tonight and I think you're going to see the same story play out through other southern states,” Stoney said.

The mayor joked that the mood had been much grimmer just a few days before.

“Some folks even gave up on us. Some folks even flirted with, dated, dabbled in a little Mike Bloomberg,” he said. 

No one pumped more financial resources in Virginia than Bloomberg. But his large paid staff and media and digital ad blitz weren’t enough to win him any of Virginia’s 99 delegates.

The results were also a disappointment to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who invested substantial time and organizing energy in the Commonwealth. Sanders drew crowds of over 20,000 in two stops in Virginia over the weekend, according to his campaign, and had an extensive volunteer operation across the state.

In the end, Sanders was on track to win around 25% of the vote -- a weaker showing than his 2016 contest against Hillary Clinton. Still, Standers was on track to pick up some of Virginia’s 99 delegates given that he notched over 15% of the vote statewide and in congressional districts -- the threshold for winning delegates.

The primaries went smoothly without any major hiccups, according to the Department of Elections. Early voting registered at more than double 2016 primary levels as of Tuesday night, according to data from the Department of Elections.

Biden racked up a series of Virginia endorsements after his South Carolina performance from politicians ranging from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to Rep. Don Beyer to Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who endorsed Biden right as the polls closed.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.), meanwhile, failed to gain traction in spite of a large organizing operation across the state, though she met the 15% threshold in the 8th congressional district.

Voters interviewed by VPM throughout the day largely expressed preferences for Biden and Sanders. Several said they were hyper-focused on one goal: removing Trump from the White House.

Barbara Plumber, who cast her ballot at Swansboro Elementary School Tuesday morning, said she was concerned about the direction of the country opted for Biden over Bloomberg because of his experience.

"I'm keeping hope alive," Plumber said.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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