Election ’08: History!
Story by Chris Graham
Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States, in no small part due to Virginia, which voted for a Democrat for president for the first time in 44 years as it also elected a Democrat in Mark Warner to the United States Senate by a historic margin and will send Tom Perriello to the Fifth District seat in the United States Congress.
Obama won Virginia by 93,000 votes out of nearly 3.3 million votes cast, with 1,695,035 votes to 1,602,395 votes for Republican John McCain. The margin was 50.9 percent to 48.1 percent. An analysis by The Augusta Free Press shows that 11,000 votes of the working margin for Obama came from increased Democratic voter turnout in the Central Shenandoah Valley – in Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County and Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. McCain won those areas by a combined vote total of 61,758 votes to 37,790 votes, winning the counties handily while Obama won majorities in Harrisonburg and Staunton and improved 10 percentage points while falling in Waynesboro. Republican George W. Bush won the region in 2004 by a combined vote total of 60,899 votes to 25,616 votes for Democrat John Kerry, meaning McCain improved on the Bush ’04 vote total by less than 1,000 votes while Obama improved on the Kerry ’04 vote total by 12,000 votes.
Warner made history not by winning as had been expected but by how he did it – polling just shy of 64 percent of the vote in his race against another former Virginia governor, Republican Jim Gilmore. Somehow, some way, both Augusta and Rockingham actually went for Gilmore, with Augusta giving Gilmore a 16,743 vote-to-14,957 vote win and Rockingham giving Gilmore a 17,260 vote-to-15,851 vote win. The cities all went for Warner rather handily, with Warner winning Harrisonburg by a 9,861 vote-to-4,266 vote margin, Staunton going for Warner 6,896 votes to 3,654 votes and Waynesboro backing Warner with 5,038 votes to 3,549 votes for Gilmore.
Warner’s strength in the cities gave him a win in the Central Shenandoah Valley overall – by a 52,603 vote-to-45,472 vote tally.
Democrat Sam Rasoul came up well short in his bid to unseat Republican incumbent Bob Goodlatte in the Sixth District, pulling 113,236 votes to fall to Goodlatte, who picked up 190,240 votes.
Perriello shocked the Virginia political world with his win in the Fifth over Goode, a longtime incumbent who had led Perriello by 34 points in a mid-August poll and still led by eight points as of the final pre-election poll done a few weeks ago. Goode lost by just over 2,000 votes, getting 153,488 votes to Perriello’s 155,589 votes.