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Joe Biden wins the Virginia primary

An Old Dominion win proves the Joementum is real.

Joe Biden takes selfies with supporters in Sterling, Virginia on November 3, 2019.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the Virginia Democratic primary, helping to breathe new life into a once-frontrunning campaign that had fallen into trouble nationwide.

Polling in Virginia has been very scarce, but the most recent numbers pointed to a big Biden lead. The result, consequently, isn’t a huge shock. But it is evidence that Biden got a bump from his performance in South Carolina and is now back in position to seriously challenge Sanders for the nomination.

Virginia has 99 delegates at stake, making it a significantly bigger prize than any of the four early states that have already voted.

Only 34 of those delegates are allocated based on statewide results, with the rest being allocated on a district-by-district basis. The scope of Biden’s victory won’t be clear until a more detailed count of the vote is available.

Virginia’s demographics are reasonably favorable to Biden. Like other Southern states, Virginia has a larger-than-average black population — about 20 percent of the total, and more than that of the Democratic Party. This has been Biden’s base throughout the 2020 campaign and should have given him a good shot here. But Virginia is also home to a huge number of wealthy, educated suburbanites in the counties surrounding Washington, DC.

The rapid growth of these suburbs combined with the education-correlated polarization of America’s white electorate has rapidly transformed Virginia from a solidly red state as recently as 2004 to a place Republicans would only carry in a big landslide.

But highly educated places have often shown interest in the array of second-tier candidates who’ve been making it impossible to consolidate an “anti-Sanders” lane in the primary. On Super Tuesday, Biden seems to have done well enough in the suburbs — and perhaps took advantage of the fading of the Bloomberg boomlet — to put himself over the top.

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