2020 Presidential Election — Is Turnout in Fairfax County, Virginia Going to Be . . . Lower Than 2016?


A man fills out his ballot at an early voting site in Arlington, Va., September 18, 2020. (Al Drago/Reuters)

As of 4 p.m., Fairfax County in Virginia had 70.1 percent turnout, once you add up the early votes, the absentee ballots returned, and the in-person vote to that hour. In most places and circumstances, that would be considered pretty good turnout. But four years ago, Fairfax County had 82.5 percent turnout. Unless there’s a big late surge, the county will probably have lower turnout this year than in 2016.

The county has about 787,000 registered voters, and about 550,000 residents have voted so far. Matching last cycle’s turnout would require about 649,000 voters. Will roughly 99,000 people turn out in the last three hours? It could happen. But right now, Fairfax is on pace for either slightly lower, about the same, or slightly higher turnout compared to four years ago.

Fairfax is pretty heavily Democratic-leaning; four years ago, 62 percent voted for Hillary, 27 percent voted for Trump. This county should be among the lowest-hanging fruit for Joe Biden’s campaign — relatively diverse, lots of federal government workers, a lot of legal immigrants. Local congressman Gerry Connolly hasn’t had a close race since 2010. The Washington Post is the most widely distributed newspaper, and it rips into the president on a daily basis.

If turnout isn’t higher here than it was four years ago . . . does that indicate that maybe Democrats’ enthusiasm wasn’t as sky-high as much of the coverage suggested for the past year? And if that’s the case, is Fairfax County an outlier, or an indicator that turnout in the deep-blue parts of the country won’t be so high tonight?

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