Fairfax County voters helped make Tuesday a good night for Democrats in Virginia.
Democrat Tim Kaine bested Republican George Allen in a race that was not quite as close as many projected before Election Day, helping Democrats to retain a majority in the U.S. Senate. President Barack Obama also edged out Republican Mitt Romney in what was considered a key battleground state.
In Fairfax, with all 237 precincts reporting, Kaine received 61 percent of the votes to Allen’s 38 percent. The statewide margin was significantly closer, with Kaine garnering 52 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting.
Obama, who made four campaign stops in Fairfax County between June and November, saw those efforts pay off Tuesday night as he outperformed Romney here, earning 260,835 votes to Romney’s 173,786. The president’s margin of victory in Fairfax County and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions proved critical in securing a 51-48 win statewide.
Kaine, a former Virginia governor who will fill the seat held by Democrat Jim Webb, campaigned as someone who would work across the aisle to meet the challenges facing the nation. Kaine made the “talent economy” the primary focus of his campaign, proposing investments in education, workforce training and economic opportunities for military veterans.
To begin reducing the federal deficit, Kaine favored letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for people making $500,000 or more, ending subsidies and allowing more negotiation within Medicare for prescription drug prices. Kaine supports an “all-of-the-above” energy policy.
Allen, also a former governor of Virginia, was looking to reclaim the U.S. Senate seat he held from 2001 to 2007. Allen narrowly lost the seat in 2006 to Webb.
The Republican focused his campaign on creating jobs, strengthening the economy and a strong repudiation of President Barack Obama’s policies, especially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Although Virginia saw narrower margins at the top of the ticket, all three congressmen who represent portions of Fairfax County had an easier time winning re-election.
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Dist. 11), narrowly re-elected two years ago, had a much easier time winning a third term, winning 60 percent of votes as compared to 36 percent for Republican Chris Perkins, the other major party candidate in the race, according to unofficial results.
“Here in the 11th District of Virginia the voters made a clear choice,” Connolly said in his acceptance speech. “They voted for pragmatism over ideology.”
In the 10th District, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R) had no problem defeating his latest challenger, Democrat Kristin Cabral, with a 59 percent to 38 percent win, according to unofficial results.
“I am very grateful to the voters for their support,” said Wolf. He plans to be very involved in working on resolving the national debt and deficit issues. “We are facing a troubled time,” he said.
Another congressional veteran, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D) also handily won re-election to the 8th District with a 64 percent to 31 percent win over Republican Patrick Murray, according to unofficial results. His solid win comes despite a recent undercover video that forced Moran’s son to resign from the campaign staff.
Fairfax County voters faced long lines at their polling places Tuesday as they went to cast their ballots in the hotly contested presidential and Senate elections. The lines were still in place when polls closed at 7 p.m., leading election officials to delay the release of results.
State and local officials reported essentially equivalent turnout to the 2008 presidential election, with about 3.7 million people casting ballots.
More than 80 percent of Fairfax County’s 666,701 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday, compared to about 79 percent in 2008.
Many precincts locally had lines with wait times in excess of one hour, while other parts of the state reportedly faced waits of up to five hours.
The group Election Protection raised concerns about the long waits, fearing that voters could be dissuaded from voting and arguing that the state should have been more prepared for the high turnout after the 2008 experience.
In Fairfax County, the wait time varied drastically at the county’s 237 precincts. Voter processing was slowed in some locations due to a shortage of poll workers, said county spokesman Jeremy Lasich.
In addition, the physical setup of some precincts precludes separate lines for paper and touch-screen voting, Lasich said. It is generally faster to cast paper ballots, but the county offers voters both options.
The county’s electorate seems to have become more diverse, even in the last four years, observed Jesus Salinas, voting in Fairfax.
“As I was standing in line it was very clear that there is a changing face of the electorate,” Salinas said, saying that is something political parties will have to take into account more in future years.
The presidential race was of the most interest to the majority of voters packing the precincts.
Protecting the Obama-backed health care law was an important issue for local Obama supporters, including Rhitu Bhardwaj of Fairfax. Bhardwaj said she works full time for a small company that can’t provide insurance for its employees and she has a hard time buying good quality insurance on her own.
“You can’t leave it to the private sector. It doesn’t work,” she said.
Republican voters like Joe Gasior of Fairfax, on the other hand, see the health care law as a tax increase that they are eager to end.
The economy was not as much of a concern for local voters, as Northern Virginia has not been as affected as other areas. Obama supporters said they believe the president has done the best he possibly could.
“I’m giving Obama the chance to fix the mess the last Republicans left us in. There’s no way he could fix that big a mess in just four years,” said Rand Winston, voting in Reston.
Times Staff Writers Holly Hobbs and Gregg MacDonald contributed to this report.