Conventional wisdom says the big question in Virginia today—hell, the only question—is whether Mitt Romney will win by landslide or avalanche. But might there be other questions? Such as, do Virginians who hate Mitt Romney hate him enough to vote for Ron Paul?
Thanks to Virginia's open primary rules, Romney and Paul (the only two candidates on the ballot, which does not allow write-ins) could both be in for a surprise. On to the (largely anecdotal) evidence:
– Reports of low voter turnout from this morning, writes Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett, mean only the diehards are voting. Ron Paul supporters are all diehards. (Counterpoint: The polls are open until 7 p.m.!)
– Supporters of Newt and Santorum may try to sabotage Romney by ginning up support for Paul. Take this plea from a Newt Gingrich forum, posted last month: "… If you are a true Newt supporter, the best you can do is vote for Ron Paul and keep Romney from winning more delegates. This IS the way you should vote in order to send a message to your Governor & the rest of the establishment GOP supporting Willard Romney. Don't get mad—get even." (Counterpoint: One message board rant does not an electoral strategy make.)
I live in a neighborhood I nicknamed Yuppie Acres in Alexandria, Virginia, a deep-blue spot in a deep-blue district of Virginia, represented in Congress for a long time by the infamous Jim Moran. My neighbors are wonderful people, but in 2008 the houses came with Obama yard signs conveniently pre-installed.
In 2009, when Bob McDonnell was winning Virginia by the largest margin of any Republican gubernatorial candidate ever, he won only 38 percent in this district and barely 37 percent in Alexandria City, although he did win 45 percent in my polling place.
Today is Super Tuesday, presidential primary day in Virginia, and there is no Democratic contest. As discussed earlier, the only names listed on the ballot are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. There are no write-in options.
I was told I was the 60th voter at about 8:25 a.m. this morning, which seems a little high for the neighborhood. Way less than a "normal" primary day (with a competitive Democratic primary) or a general election, but significantly more than most other Republicans around the state have reported this morning.
That number could reflect Democrats crossing over.
Ron Paul supporters in Virginia are also encouraging Democrats to vote for Paul on the Virginia for Ron Paul 2012 Facebook page:
"LISTEN UP Democrats, Independents and everything in between!! PLEASE Consider voting for Ron Paul in the PRIMARY tomorrow! Do NOT Consider it a vote against Obama, it's just a primary and you can still vote for Obama if your heart so desires come this November!"
Stay tuned for more Super Tuesday coverage.