We’ve been hearing for years that Virginia is a “red” state. True, Republican presidential candidates carried it in every election from 1968 through 2004, but apart from that, exactly how “red” has Virginia been?
If Mark Obenshain loses the race for Attorney General following the recount (as of right now after the completion of county canvases, he trails by fewer than 200 votes), Democrats will hold all five statewide offices – Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and both U.S. Senate seats – for the first time since before the 1969 election when Linwood Holton was elected Governor as a Republican. If Virginia ever was such a “red” state, then surely Republicans have matched this feat.
In truth, Republicans have held all five statewide seats only once in the history of Virginia and that lasted for but one year between the 2000 and 2001 elections. At that time, Jim Gilmore was Governor, John Hager was Lt. Governor, Mark Earley was Attorney General, and John Warner and George Allen were our U.S. Senators. It was at this point when Virginia was declared a solid red state. To me, that was always a myth. Let’s look at the numbers…
Republicans have only held a U.S. Senate seat from Virginia 5 times — John Lewis 1870, William Scott 1972, John Warner 1978, Paul Trible 1982 and George Allen 2000.
We’ve only held the office of Governor 8 times – 6 since the end of Reconstruction. Dems have won the governorship 40 times.
We’ve only held the office of Lt. Governor 7 times – 3 since the end of Reconstruction. Dems have won the seat 26 times.
We’ve only won the office of Attorney General 8 times – 6 since the end of Reconstruction. (Republicans have had a total of 12 AGs, since 4 of them were appointed to fill the unexpired terms of AGs who won the GOP nomination and resigned from office early to run.) Dems have won the office in election 14 times.
That is a total of only 19 Republicans who have held any one of the 5 statewide offices in Virginia since Reconstruction ended in the 1870s. (Some of those 19 are the same person as George Allen was both Governor and U.S. Senator, Jim Gilmore and Bob McDonnell were both AG and Gov., etc.)
Virginia is not nor has it ever been a “red” state. To the same extent, I would argue that despite Democrats’ recent successes in the Commonwealth that it has not turned “blue” either, but remains an ever shifting degree of purple.