Tuesday’s election provided a sharp reminder to the all-Republican Loudoun County Board of Supervisors that this is not an all-Republican county.
Loudoun County may have looked scarlet to them a year ago, when Republicans won not only every seat on the board, but also every constitutional office on the ballot as well as most Virginia General Assembly seats representing Loudoun residents.
But the county that has now voted twice for Barack Obama for president remains undeniably purple. Obama not only won Loudoun again, he won it handily, with 51.4 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Mitt Romney. The president’s margin was slightly wider in Loudoun County than in Virginia as a whole.
Some of the supervisors have at times conducted themselves at board meetings as if they were at a gathering of the Republican party, making dismissive remarks about the Democratic convention, ranting about voter fraud, and making a show of traveling en masse directly from a public hearing to a Romney rally.
Before casually dismissing Democrats again, they should consider the fact that Obama received 81,640 votes in Loudoun County this year. He got 74,845 votes here four years ago, when he also carried the county.
That’s a lot more votes than any of the Republican supervisors got in the off-year election for board of supervisors in 2011, when Scott York received 31,042 votes. Sterling District Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, arguably the best-known elected official in Loudoun County, won re-election with just 2,836 votes.
Here are some more observations about Tuesday’s vote in Loudoun County.
Loudoun County is no longer more Republican than the rest of the country. Bill Clinton lost Loudoun in 1992 and 1996, but won the presidency. Obama’s victory margins here in 2008 and again this year closely mirrored the national vote.
It appears that Loudoun has indeed become a bellwether county at the state level as well as the race for the presidency. In the 2001 gubernatorial race, Republican Mark Earley won Loudoun County but lost to Democrat Mark Warner statewide. Since then, Loudoun has voted in favor of the ultimate winner – Democrat Tim Kaine in 2005 and Republican Bob McDonnell in 2009.
Kaine’s win in Loudoun County was no fluke. Not only did Kaine carry the county in his successful 2005 race for governor, Loudoun has now voted Democratic in three consecutive senatorial races. Loudoun also went for successful Democratic candidates Jim Webb in 2006 and Mark Warner in 2008.
The age-old tension between eastern and western Loudoun has now become a blue-red division. The Blue Ridge and Catoctin districts, which elected Democrats Eleanore Towe and Sally Kurtz to multiple terms on the board not so long ago, went decidedly for Romney this year. Romney received 53.7 percent and 56.1 percent of the vote in those districts, respectively.
On the other hand, Obama prevailed in Leesburg and the five eastern Loudoun districts. It is noteworthy that Obama won most decisively in the Sterling District, where he received 8,437 votes, or 60.4 percent of the vote. That is the same district that has elected conservative ideologue Delgaudio to the board four times. As I have already noted, Delgaudio won re-election last year with less than 3,000 votes.
Bond referenda for school construction and public safety are still popular in Loudoun. It’s never a surprise when county voters support the acquisition of fire and rescue apparatus, as they did Tuesday. Nor should it be a surprise that they again supported the sale of bonds for school construction, despite growing public pressure on elected officials to contain school-related costs.
Partisan politics apparently didn’t make much difference in the races for Leesburg Town Council. Council races are officially nonpartisan and they stayed that way, notwithstanding concerns I raised before the election. Winners in the races for mayor and council included two candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party, one endorsed by the Republican Party, and one – Katie Hammler – who wasn’t endorsed by either party.
Leesburg voters instead voted for the status quo. All the incumbents won re-election. It appears that Leesburg residents are quite content with the representation they are receiving from their mayor and council.