How Many Electors Does Virginia Have? The Longtime Republican Stronghold Could Flip
As one of the biggest of the original 13 colonies, Virginia once held an outsized level of influence in the Electoral College. Now, the number of electors that Virginia has has gone down to 13, but with the shifting demographic trends in the state, it's still one that the candidates fight hard to win in each election. After decades of Republican victories in the state, the Democrats seem primed for their third triumph in a row there.
From 1952 until 2004, Virginia was pretty much a sure thing for the Republicans. In that whole period, Virginia only voted for the Democratic candidate once, and it was for Lyndon B. Johnson in the landslide 1964 election against Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. In 2008, however, Virginia's 13 electoral votes went to Barack Obama. The state voted the same way in 2012, and now Hillary Clinton will almost certainly win in Virginia. She apparently feels so comfortable with the projected margin there that the Clinton campaign has not spent any money in Virginia running ads on television — although she did pick a vice presidential candidate from Virginia, for what it's worth. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has recently dumped just under $800,000 into TV advertising in Virginia, although there were several weeks where his campaign didn't spend any money on that at all, instead preferring to do live events.
Trump certainly has an uphill battle, with all major poll aggregators pointing to a comfortable Clinton victory in Virginia. This change over the past decade is largely thanks to the same shifting demographic trends that have been putting other states like North Carolina into play for the Democrats as well. Virginia has seen a rise in moderate, suburban, well-educated, and minority voters, a coalition that votes Democratic in very high numbers. Many of these people are concentrated in Northern Virginia around Washington D.C., and the proportion of rural, less educated white voters is declining in the state accordingly.
At one point, Virginia was the most electorally powerful state in the country with 15.9 percent of the entire electoral vote total. As the country grew in both size and population, of course, Virginia's influence slipped down to its current level. It was a key swing state in 2012, which Obama won by a fairly tight margin. Now, Obama's successor as the Democratic presidential nominee doesn't expect to have as big of a challenge there — but she's still counting on those 13 electoral votes as an important part of her total number.