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Virginia inches toward battleground status

Your guide to the 2024 elections

Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va. SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Virginia inches toward battleground status


Voter makeup:

Over six million Virginians were registered to vote as of May 1, similar to the last few years. Virginia voters do not register by party. The state has voted blue in every presidential election since 2004, but became more solidly Democratic in 2018 when three congressional seats flipped from red to blue. Republicans managed to flip one seat back in 2022. The state legislature swung Democratic in 2023.


Primaries in Virginia are open, so voters can select any candidate, regardless of party. Virginia allows early voting starting 45 days before the election and ending the Saturday before the election. The Old Dominion state also allows no-excuse voting by mail. State law first allowed same-day voter registration in 2022.


Virginia carries 13 electoral votes and leans likely Democratic this year, but the needle has been moving more to the center. Democratic candidates have won the presidential election in Virginia for every cycle since former President Barack Obama carried the state in 2008.

President Joe Biden, 81, won the Democratic primary on March 5 with nearly 90 percent of votes. Former President Donald Trump, 78, took 63 percent of votes in the Republican primary. The remaining votes went mostly to former UN ambassador Nikki Haley.

In the 2020 general election, Biden received 2,413,568 votes to Trump’s 1,962,430. Biden’s victory of more than 450,000 votes was a more decisive lead for Democrats than in the 2016 and 2012 elections. Biden received 99 delegates, while Trump received 42 and Haley gained six.


  • Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, 66, is running for reelection to the U.S. Senate. Cook Political Report and Inside Elections call the seat “solidly Democratic.” Kaine sponsored the Reproductive Freedom for All Act, which would remove pro-life protections to allow abortion before an unborn baby is viable. He has also allotted millions of dollars of federal funding for affordable housing, education and job training, and renewable energy.

  • Hung Cao, 52, a retired Navy captain and Vietnamese refugee, unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2022 when he challenged incumbent Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va. Cao is marketing himself as pro-gun and tough on border security and China, and he says he’s pro-life but would vote against a national abortion ban. He received Trump’s endorsement in May. Cao has also sparred with the press over his military record. He accused USAToday of publishing a “hit job” on his service when an article cast doubt on whether Cao was injured in combat. He has criticized Kaine on the campaign trail for sitting comfortably on Capitol Hill while he was “blown up” and “100 percent disabled” from wounds sustained during his military service. But he has not claimed to have a Purple Heart or Combat Action Ribbon, typically given to members who suffer injuries in action. Cao did receive a Bronze Star for “heroic or meritorious achievement” for deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq during his 25 years of service. His top campaign issue is border control and immigration reform.


Democrats hold 6 of Virginia’s 11 U.S. House seats.

  • In the 2nd District, Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans, 53, is running for her second term after a narrow victory in 2022. Democrat Missy Cotter Smasal, 46, like Kiggans, is a U.S. Navy veteran and secured an endorsement from Virginia’s Democratic former Gov. Ralph Northam. Kiggans unseated a Democrat when she won in 2022, and the district is expected to be closely divided again this year. The district flips parties nearly every election cycle.

  • In the 4th District, results were too close to call between incumbent Rep. Bob Good, 58, and Trump-endorsed state Sen. John McGuire, 55. After two weeks, the state called the race for McGuire on July 2 by roughly 375 votes. Good requested a recount and claimed Lynchburg incorrectly counted ballots from a drop box after Election Day.

  • Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, 44, is giving up her 7th District seat to run for governor in 2025. Eugene Vindman, 49, won the Democratic nomination on June 18, while Derrick Anderson will be the Republican contender. Vindman, a political newcomer, far outraised a crowded Democratic field. He is the twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified during the impeachment hearings in regard to Trump’s alleged dealings with Ukraine. Eugene Vindman, also a veteran, says Trump pushed him and his brother off their National Security Council jobs in retaliation for being whistleblowers. Anderson, a Green Beret veteran, is an attorney and formerly worked in the Trump administration in the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Spanberger has narrowly won the district by only a few percentage points for the past three election cycles.

  • In the 10th District, three-term Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton, 56, is retiring due to a Parkinson’s diagnosis. The large district covers all of Fauquier, Manassas, and Rappahannock counties along with parts of Loudon, Fairfax, and Prince William. State Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, 37, defeated a dozen Democratic peers to win the primary nomination to replace Wexton, thanks in part to Wexton’s endorsement. Subramanyam’s record includes voting for pro-abortion policies in the state house and gun control legislation. Republican Mike Clancy, 67, a lawyer and media commentator, will challenge him in November. He says he has attended well over 30 school board meetings to protest what he calls censorship and removal of parental rights.


Virginia citizens can’t propose referendums or initiatives. The one amendment on the ballot this year would change the language in the constitution about property tax exemptions for veterans. The amendment would replace the phrase “killed in action” with “died in the line of duty.”

Dig deeper:

  • Read Steve West’s story on the Virginia Supreme Court decision that boosted religious freedom.

  • Read Carolina Lumetta’s report about Virginia Republicans embracing mail-in voting.

  • Leo Briceno reports on how Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., landed on the wrong side of Trump.

With reporting assistance from Carolina Lumetta

Visit the WORLD Election Center 2024 to follow our state-by-state coverage between now and November.

Clara York

Clara is a 2023 World Journalism Institute graduate and a senior journalism major at Patrick Henry College.

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