Since President Trump took office, voter turnout has surged in Virginia, the state that holds elections every year, leading analysts to conclude that even local races have turned into referendums on the president.
“We’ve seen, across the Trump presidency so far, huge spikes in turnout in Virginia,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist. “And it’s very clear that President Donald Trump brings a lot of people to the voting booth. Some vote in support, but, as we saw in Virginia, more vote in opposition.”
Trump lost Virginia by six points in 2016, making it the only Southern state carried by Hillary Clinton. Since that presidential election, off-year turnout in the state has spiked, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.
Voters in Virginia, where Western democracy began 400 years ago, have always been pretty good about going to the polls every four years, when there’s a presidential contest on the ballot. About 70 percent of the state’s voters show up for that.
But turnout has tended to plummet — to 30 or 40 percent — in the off years, when it’s time to pick a governor and other statewide officials, members of Congress, or state legislators.
Trump seems to have disrupted that pattern. Voters who love or loathe the president have gone to the polls in record numbers to register their support or opposition…