Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Military Voters March With McCain

As in the recent Florida and South Carolina primaries, yesterday's vote in Virginia revealed strong support for John McCain among military personnel and veterans.

Voting patterns in Virginia's 95 counties and 39 indepedent cities reveal that the Arizona Senator achieved some of his largest victory margins in the state's 2nd Congressional District, which is home to a host of Navy facilities, including the Norfolk Navy Base; the Naval Air Station at Oceana, and the Little Creek Amphibious Base in Virginia Beach.

McCain racked up similar totals in the adjacent 1st Congressional District, which contains the giant Northrup-Grumman shipyard in Newport News; Langley AFB in neighboring Hampton; a pair of Army installations (Ft Eustis and Ft Monroe), and the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station.

While the 2nd District has been a marginally Republican area in recent elections (Republican Congresswoman Velma Drake was reelected in a tight race two years ago), the area's electorate has the second-highest concentration of military and veterans in the nation. The 1st District has been solidly Republican for more than a decade, thanks--in part--to large blocs of military voters in areas like York County, Gloucester County and Poquoson.

On Tuesday, both areas went for McCain by large margins. In the Second District, the Senator won easily over Mike Huckabee in the military communities of Portsmouth (49-43%); Norfolk (53-37%) and Virginia Beach (53-38%). McCain's totals in those communities helped offset Huckabee's advantage in the rural counties of western and southern Virginia.

McCain carried the First District by similar margins. While he beat Huckabee in Hampton (home of Langley AFB) by only three points, 47-44%, McCain rolled up larger margins in the cities of Newport News (49-43%); Poquoson (51-39%); York County (49-42%) and Gloucester County (48-43%).

The Arizona Senator also scored well among military voters in Virginia's Eighth Congressional District, home to active duty personnel, retirees and veterans who work in Washington, or its southern suburbs. In Fairfax County, McCain more than doubled Huckabee's vote total (64-24%) and ran strongly in nearby Loudon County (which he carried by 57-32% margin).

If there's a dark lining in McCain's Virginia win, it could be seen in some of the Republican precincts of the Tidewater Peninsula. At mid-day Tuesday, turnout in the town of Poquoson was running below projections, according to one official. Poquoson, which lies adjacent to Langley AFB, is perhaps the "reddest" community in a region where Republicans outnumber Democrats.

A friend of ours who votes at a school in York County school (less than 10 miles away) reported similar numbers. He arrived at the polling place just after lunch and described it as a "ghost town," with more election officials outnumbering voters. Statewide, Republican voting totals ran well behind those of Democrats.

That's not completely unexpected, but a low turnout in places like Poquoson and York County suggests that many GOP voters stayed home--another indication of the fence-mending that McCain must do, if he hopes to carry Virginia in November.


Constructivist said...

The weather was horrible in Northern Virginia yesterday - freezing rain that turned 40 minute commutes into hours. One colleague of mine left the Pentagon at 4:30 and didn't get to the slug lot in Stafford County until after 10 pm. I suspect there were a lot of voters, military and otherwise, who were delayed by the ice.

Unknown said...

That's true, but the weather wasn't that bad in other areas, including Richmond and Tidewater. And in those regions, GOP turnout was only light-to-moderate. The weather kept some Republican voters home--particularly in your neck of the woods--but more than a few were turned off by their "choices" and stayed away for that reason.

My condolences to you--and everyone else--who must commute to work in D.C./Northern VA. The last time in was in D.C., on a Saturday in early Nov, it took me almost two hours drive from Dulles to Fredricksburg, and the weather was fine. When it turns bad, it becomes a nightmare, as it did Tuesday.

TS Alfabet said...

I think there is a huge mis-reading of the Republican voter turnout in the primaries, particularly the ones after Florida. Without a doubt, there are some Republicans sitting out the primaries as a sort of "protest" non-vote, to send some kind of signal to McCain. One of the Powerline bloggers said as much for himself a week or two ago. But I contend that the vast majority of Republicans, like me in Maryland, did not vote in the primary because: 1) there are only 2 contestants in the race and of the two, Huckabee cannot possibly win and; 2) Huckabee, from a conservative perspective, is worse is every respect than McCain; Huckabee doesn't even have McCain's strong military/foreign policy creds. So why would I want to cast a vote for a foregone conclusion? If Romney or, perhaps, Thompson was still in the race and competitive, the turnout would be much higher. Let's compare this to the Democrat side: their turnout is of course much higher because they have an all-out war going on between Clinton and Obama; the outcome is very much in doubt, even at this relatively late stage. Of course Dem voters are going to swarm to the polls to support their candidate. This has little or nothing to do with turnout for November. In fact, one could argue that turnout will be reversed in November because McCain will have from now until November to mend fences with conservatives whereas the Dems will battle it out right up to their convention and whichever candidate gets the nomination it will almost certainly be such a scorched-earth affair that the loser's supporters will be alienated and very likely sit out in November in protest (or poke the Dem in the eye by voting for McCain). Republicans of all stripes will be plenty motivated in November when it comes down to either Hillary or Hussein in the White House.