Virginia Won’t Be in Trump’s Win Column — Barring a Landslide

It’s time to face reality, Virginia. You’re not a swing state anymore (but you probably already knew that). Democrats have the advantage heading into the November election and, barring an electoral miracle, the Trump campaign has pretty much conceded the commonwealth’s 13 electoral votes to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

That’s the major takeaway from a Sept. 8 radio interview with Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director and an old Virginia hand.

Richmond’s Morning News host John Reid asked Murtaugh what the Trump campaign’s plans were for Virginia in the weeks before Election Day.

Murtaugh said Virginia “is on the outside edge of the possible” for the national ticket. That’s a reasonable assessment based solely upon the past three presidential races, including President Trump’s unsuccessful effort to win Virginia in 2016.

But Murtaugh said the Trump campaign is, indeed, looking to win states such as Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada, where 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton defeated Trump four years ago.

“I’d say Virginia is in that second tier, really,” Murtaugh said. But for Virginia to switch to the red column from the blue column would require something that hasn’t happened in presidential elections in Virginia since 1984: the incumbent winning in a landslide.

“There are a lot of scenarios we look at, and one of the scenarios is the Trump landslide scenario,” Murtaugh said. “And in that scenario, Virginia probably comes along. It’s going to take some work to get there.”

“There are other states, to be honest,” Murtaugh said, “that are far more likely” to go Trump’s way.

Maybe so — just as there may be states Trump won in 2016 that will slip through his fingers in November. Murtaugh said the campaign’s current plan is “protect the states the president won last time and try to pick off some that Hillary won where the president was close.”

Clinton defeated Trump in Virginia 49.8 to 44.4 percent four years ago. That’s not close enough to command scarce national campaign resources.

And to make matters more dire on the GOP side, there’s fresh polling data out of Virginia Commonwealth University showing Biden leading Trump 53-39 percent among likely voters. The poll’s main caveat is that the margin of error is somewhat high: 6.22 percent.

The data is in line with other Virginia-specific polling conducted since May showing Biden with a consistent double-digit lead over Trump. Against that public backdrop, plus whatever internal figures Murtaugh & Co. are seeing, it looks as if the Democratic presidential nominee is again positioned to win.

This doesn’t mean the national race won’t influence what happens in Virginia’s congressional races. Trump’s shadow has loomed over Virginia’s political landscape since the day he notched a primary win in Virginia over Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in 2016 — a victory that effectively ended Rubio’s presidential bid.

Continue reading at the Washington Post.

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