June 7, 2021

L2 - Virginia Democratic Primary 2021 - Show me numbers…

For those of us who have been immersed in politics from an early age, we all probably remember a young high school age Jed Bartlet saying to Dolores Landingham…”if you want to convince me of something, show me numbers.”

In this iconic scene from The West Wing’s Two Cathedrals episode, Mrs. Landingham advocates for equal pay for equal work and provides numbers to back up her argument. Examining and presenting data is critical to making any argument and laying out a strategy to win. With the Republican gubernatorial ticket all locked up in Virginia, Democrats in the state make their gubernatorial selection on June 8.

To help predict who may show up to this year’s Democratic primary, let’s take a look at L2’s Virginia’s voter file, derived from public voter registration records, to see who voted in the 2020 Democratic primary and 2020 general election. Of Virginia’s 2.744 million active Democratic voters:

  • 1,187,003 likely Democrat voters showed up to vote in the 2020 presidential primary
  • 2,219,039 Democrat voters voted in the 2020 general election. Of these voters, roughly 1.5 million Democrat voters voted early or absentee
    • Keep in mind that 2020 was an outlier year with COVID 


(Democrat Virginia Voters - 2020 General Election)

As you can see from the map, the Democratic general election voters are concentrated in large areas like Northern Virginia, Richmond and Newport News and Norfolk. 

With the 2021 Democratic Gubernatorial primary tomorrow, let’s look at the candidates that are on the ballot.

The 2021 Virginia Gubernatorial election will be the third for Terry McAuliffe as he served as Virginia’s Governor from 2014-2028 and lost the 2009 Democratic primary to Creigh Deeds. In the 2013 Democratic primary, McAuliff ran unopposed and received 1.069 million votes in the general election compared to his Republican challenger, Ken Cuccinelli, who received 1.013 million votes - a delta of roughly 56,000 votes. 

A day out from the 2021 Democratic primary, let’s take a look at the current state of play taken from public voting records. L2’s latest voter file and voter database as of June 7, 2021 states that:

  • 82,840 early voting ballot had been returned; and
  • 124,134 early voting ballots had been requested; and
  • 41,141 early voting ballots that have been issued are outstanding.

Of the 82,840 early voting ballots that have been returned, L2’s voter file shows that 34,712 (41%)were returned in the Washington, D.C. Designated Market Area (DMA) otherwise known as media market. This area represents the highest amount of early voting ballots returned in the state.

(Virginia early voting ballots returned in the Washington, D.C. DMA)

 As L2’s voter data from the Virginia voter file shows us that a victory for any candidate in the Democratic gubernatorial primary will come down to candidate voter turnout in areas around the state like Northern Virginia, Richmond and Newport News and Norfolk.


Some of the other numbers from Virginia’s early Democratic Primary Voters: 

Largest Turnout County: Fairfax County 15% of the Turnout

Largest Turnout City: Alexandria

Gender Split: 59.6% Female // 40.3% Male

Married: 42.5%

Age Range: 60% are 65+ another 22% are 50-64 with the smallest group being 18-29 year old at 5%

Racial Breakdown: 65.6% White, 18.8% African American, 3% Hispanic

First Time Gubernatorial Primary Voters: 36.5%

New Registrants Since 2020 General: 113 voters 

College Educated or Higher: 55.6%

Home Owners: 64%

Likely Renter: 17%


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