As Virginia heads into Super Tuesday, the mood is decidedly flat, likely due to the ballot offering only two choices to voters: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
"I expect a poor turnout. With no real competition, many voters will conclude, 'Why bother?'" said Mark J. Rozell, professor of Public Policy at George Mason University in Fairfax.
Mark Kelly, former chairman of the Arlington County Republican Party, also predicted a turnout lower than the presidential primary in 2008 which saw about 9,500 voters show up for the Republican ticket.
"Of course, the Obama-Clinton primary was going on the same day. There was more attention drawn to it, as well," Kelly said. I'm guessing lower [this year], just because it doesn't seem like [the candidates] are really contesting this."
Kelly estimated Arlington's turnout will be between 5,000 and 6,000 on Super Tuesday. Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, also predicted a low turnout.
"I don't think that's going to point to the lack of enthusiasm of Republicans for November," Kelly noted. "It's more of a reflection just of the … lack of overall attention that seems to be paid here. I'd have to assume that turnout is going to be lower."
Potential VP McDonnell Encourages Participation
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who has endorsed frontrunner Mitt Romney and campaigned with him in South Carolina and Florida, asked voters turn out today during a conference call with reporters Monday.
"We have two candidates — Ron Paul and our endorsed candidate Gov. Mitt Romney — and while [the Virginia primary] is one of 10 races that are being held across the country, we obviously think Virginia is a critically important state," McDonnell said.
"It's said to be a swing state," he said. "It was a state that three, four years ago went for Obama and seven years ago went for President Bush so it certainly has the ability for both Democrats and Republicans to win. That's why most people think Virginia will be a very important state in November. We're asking our Republican activists and Independents who want to vote in the Republican primary to go out and vote tomorrow."
Is McDonnell, who is oft-discussed as a potential running mate with Romney, serving up Virginia's delegates to Romney on a silver platter? University of Virginia Prof. Larry Sabato, in his "Crystal Ball" report, noted Virginia's leaders are Romney supporters and said Romney will "sweep or nearly sweep" the state and is "guaranteed Virginia" and its 46 delegates.
Because President George W. Bush (R) went unchallenged in 2004, the last comparable GOP presidential primary race to this year's was in 2000 when Vice President Al Gore went unchallenged for the Democrats. Five Republican candidates, including Bush and John McCain, battled for the GOP nomination.
That year, Virginia saw a 17.28 percent turnout. Participation that year was highest in Virginia's 8th Congressional District and lowest in the state's 9th Congressional District. Fairfax County had a 23.2 percent turnout — 126,234 of the 544,157 registered voters — according to Elections Chief Cameron Quinn.
In 2008, when there was both a Democratic and Republican primary, turnout was about 11 percent statewide, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections.
Paul Versus Romney in 2008
Both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney showed up on Virginia's Republican presidential primary ballot in 2008. In Fairfax County, Ron Paul outdid this year's frontrunner to take Virginia in four of the nine supervisory districts — Providence, Hunter Mill, Mason and Lee — though neither took the lead in any of the nine.
Paul performed better in Providence by 44 votes, garnering 352 to Romney's 308. In Sully District, Romney won 36 more votes than Paul with 340 to Paul's 304. Totals include absentee ballots.
Oakton is split between the Sully and Providence supervisory districts. Voters at Oakton precincts, including the one at Oakton High School, were split between Romney and Paul. Two precincts had more ballots cast in favor of Paul than Romney, and two did the opposite.
No Oakton precinct gave either candidate the majority of its votes, as John McCain swept all four.Precinct Ron Paul John McCain Fred D. Thompson Mike Huckabee Rudy Giuliani Mitt Romney 701-Blake () 22 (6.34%) 215 (61.96%) 1 (.29%) 91 (26.22%) 2 (.58%) 16 (4.61%) 727-Oakton () 12 (3.96%) 201 (66.34%) 2 (.66%) 67 (22.11%) 4 (1.32%) 17 (5.61%) 732-Oak Marr () 18 (4.89%) 257 (69.84%) 1 (.27%) 75 (20.38%) 1 (.27%) 16 (4.35%) 916-Waples Mill () 27 (5.34%) 327 (64.62%) 1 (.20%) 109 (21.54%) 1 (.20%) 41 (8.10%)
Where Is My Polling Place?
The Virginia State Board of Elections website has a handy tool to help you find your polling place. Here’s how to use it:
- Click on the link above.
- Fill out the fields provided with your voter ID or your name, birthday and the last four digits of your social security number.
- Click “find.”
The search results will return your voting precinct along with other information. To get the exact address of your specific polling location, click on the + (plus) sign next to "Polling Place."
From this page, you can also see a preview of your ballot.
There’s a chance, due to redistricting, that your polling location on Super Tuesday will be different from your polling location in past elections.
Patch editor Jason Spencer also contributed to this report.