Decision 2024

‘Virginia is in play': Virginia looking more like a battleground state in 2024 presidential election

Virginia’s Republican Party chairman said the Trump campaign is planning to invest heavily in the commonwealth. But the Biden-Harris campaign has a head start with several offices in Virginia

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There is growing agreement that Virginia will be a battleground in the 2024 presidential race, and Thursday’s debate only reinforces the belief that Virginia will be competitive.

It’s an assessment that is delighting Republicans and causing worry for Democrats. Virginians have not backed a Republican presidential candidate since 2004.

One day after former President Donald Trump faced President Joe Biden on the debate stage, Trump made it clear that he is focused on Virginia by hosting a campaign rally in Chesapeake.

At the rally, Trump blasted Biden's debate performance and celebrated his own "big victory," getting cheers from the crowd.

Former President Donald Trump hosted a campaign rally Friday in Chesapeake, Virginia, where he blasted President Joe Biden for a shaky debate performance and railed against members of the media.

Virginia voters twice rejected Trump, by a five-point margin in 2016 and by a 10-point margin when he first faced Biden in 2020.

But polls show Biden and Trump are now in a dead heat in Virginia.

“Virginia is in play. Virginia is a competitive, two-party state,” Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, said.

Virginia’s Republican Party Chairman Rich Anderson is thrilled with Trump’s prospects in Virginia and with his debate performance.

“Jubilant is the word in the sense that he did perform very well,” Anderson said.

Anderson was set to meet with Trump for the first time backstage at the rally in Chesapeake. He shared the message he planned to deliver.

“I’m the guy on the ground that I think can do this. I want to tell him, ‘Mr. President, I feel very confident you are going  to carry Virginia on Nov. 5,'" he said.

Anderson said Virginia GOP officials huddled with Republican National Committee leaders and Trump team members last week in Washington.

He says the Trump campaign is going to invest heavily in Virginia by opening offices, hiring staff and scheduling more rallies.

“We talked about how we would kludge ourselves into a single operation here in Virginia,” Anderson said.

The plans include a state director and deputy, a director of elections integrity and a deputy, plus 500 attorneys to keep an eye on the polls and resolve any difficulties there, Anderson said.

But the Biden-Harris campaign already has a head start, with at least a half dozen offices already open, including one in Prince William County.

Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker, meanwhile, argues that the more time Trump spends in Virginia, the better it will be for the Biden-Harris ticket.

“Come on in here, Donald Trump, and you just keep talking and you keep telling those lies and you keep making stuff up,” Swecker said. “The more Virginia voters see you for what you are and what we know… the more they are going to understand what’s at stake and will vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

But Rozell, the political analyst, says Democrats would face an unexpected challenge if they end up battling in a state they had hoped to be locked down.

“The fact that we are now talking about Virginia being a competitive state, being in play, means that the Biden campaign is going to have to put precious resources into a state that they should have felt confident that they could win,” Rozell said.

If the Trump campaign is gaining ground in Virginia, there could be a coattail effect: Republicans down the ballot in the U.S. Senate contest and competitive congressional races could benefit, too.

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