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With Whopping 120,721 Vote Edge for Webb in N. Va., Dems Aiming at 2007

Jim Webb (News-Press Photo)Area Decisive in 9,329 Statewide Margin for Webb

Reviewing election returns in Northern Virginia from last week, where their party picked up 56,718 new votes over a year ago, state Democratic Party leaders are already plotting where to focus efforts on gains in the state legislative elections a year from now.

Key Republican-held districts in the region, such as those currently held by in Fairfax County by State Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis and State Del. Vincent Callahan, and in southern Arlington County by State Del. David Albo, are being evaluated for special targeting, according to News-Press sources.

With the election of Democrat Jim Webb over incumbent Republican George Allen by a narrow, final 9,329-vote statewide margin last week, the five jurisdictions of the immediate Northern Virginia region produced an overwhelming majority for the Democrat in what has become a recent years’ pattern. The jurisdictions are Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Falls Church.

Webb’s margin of victory in those jurisdictions was a whopping 120,721 votes. He netted 294,768 total votes for a 62.8% share.

In November 2005, Democrat Governor Tim Kaine won a similarly-tight race over Republican Jerry Kilgore and almost the entirety of his 113,340 vote margin statewide came from the 102,663 margin he accrued in Northern Virginia. He gained a total of 238,050 votes in Northern Virginia for a 64.6% edge here.

The biggest news for Democrats in comparing the two elections is the 56,718 additional votes they pulled this time from the region over a year ago.

Of course, the overall voter turnout was higher than in 2005. Allen also pulled more than his GOP counterpart a year ago, 174,047 votes for him in the region compared to 129,941 for Kilgore in 2005.

But the Democrats feel the momentum is in their favor, especially since the 2006 vote totals not only confirmed the trend they established in 2005, but extended it.

In particular, and most critically for them, before 2005 they could not count on such favorable results from the giant Fairfax County, the state’s largest with over a million residents. The last two elections, though, margins for the Democrats have been very robust there, with Webb winning 58.9% of 339,349 total votes last week following Kaine’s winning 60.15% of 266,952 votes in 2005.

Fairfax went for Democrats Chuck Robb, in a failed effort for the U.S. Senate against George Allen in 2000 and Mark Warner, in a successful effort for the governor’s office against Mark Earley in 2001, but by much narrower margins. In the 2002 U.S. Senate race, Sen. John Warner faced no Democratic opposition.

Furthermore, the more outlying and fast-growing counties of Loudoun and Prince William also went “blue,” i.e. with Democratic majorities, on Tuesday. Webb captured 50.5% in Prince William and barely over 50% in Loudoun, repeating the trend set by 2005 wins for Kaine in those places. 

Democratic analysts also indicated they are heartened by the vote on the ballot Question #1, the so-called “marriage amendment,” in Northern Virginia. Whereas the “yes” vote favoring a state Constitutional amendment for ban on gay marriage and “legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals,” the opponents prevailed by a solid 58.8% margin in Northern Virginia.

This translates, in the view of the leaders of the Commonwealth Coalition effort to defeat the amendment, into the notion that gay and lesbian rights, including gay marriage, is now considered a mainstream Democratic Party issue, especially in this region. That, they contend, is one important successful outcome of their effort.

Another is the analysis of the overall vote on the amendment indicating that the specific “get out the vote” efforts pertaining to the issue produced significantly better results for the “No” campaign than for the “Yes.” That means the Republican-led effort to place the measure on the ballot, in the first place, might well have backfired and cost them the Senate election.