The Virginia Primary: A 2020 Guide

Learn more about the Virginia Primary election and its influence on the 2020 presidential nomination process.
Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

When is the Virginia primary?

Swing state Virginia’s primary is March 3, 2020, on Super Tuesday. Virginia is one of 14 states, along with American Samoa and Democrats Abroad, holding primaries on that date. The Republicans of Virginia canceled the Republican primary, so only the Democratic presidential primary will occur on March 3; both parties will hold primaries for all other offices on June 9, 2020.

How many winnable delegates does Virginia offer?

Virginia offers Democrats 124 delegates, 99 pledged to a candidate and 25 unpledged or superdelegates. To win any delegates, a candidate must receive at least 15% of the vote. Candidates meeting that threshold receive a proportionate share of those delegates.

The Republican party canceled its presidential primary in 2020, but the state has 49 delegates at the Republican National Convention.

Who won in 2016?

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the Virginia Democratic primary over Bernie Sanders, 64.3% to 35.2%. With the delegates awarded proportionally, Clinton received 73 delegates and Sanders got 32.

On the Republican side, President Donald Trump won with 34.7%, garnering 17 delegates; Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was second at 31.9% (16 delegates); Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) third at 16.9% (8); John Kasich, 9.4% (5); and Ben Carson, 5.9% (3). In 2016, the Republican delegates, whether at-large or district-wide, were awarded proportionally according to the statewide vote. The remaining three, who were Republican leaders, were also bound at the Republican National Convention.

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How does the Virginia primary work?

On March 3, 2020, only the Democrats of Virginia will hold a presidential primary, and the primary is open, meaning anyone of any party affiliation can request a ballot. Republicans canceled their 2020 presidential primary. Virginia will hold primaries for all other offices, including the remaining federal races and local elections, on June 9, 2020.

In Virginia, a Democrat must receive 15% of the vote to receive delegates, and then the delegates are awarded proportionally, some district-wide and some at the state level. Virginia has 124 delegates, 99 of them pledged, and 25 unpledged. Virginia requires a photo ID to vote. Anyone without one of the acceptable forms of ID below will receive a provisional ballot:

  • Virginia driver’s license;
  • Virginia DMV-issued photo ID;
  • United States passport;
  • Employer-issued photo ID;
  • Virginia Voter Photo ID card;
  • Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued photo ID;
  • Student photo ID issued by a school, college or university located in Virginia;
  • Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID.

How much impact does winning Virginia have on the election?

As a swing state, Virginia can play a key role in the election. With 13 electoral votes, it’s not the most the electoral college has to offer, but it can help a candidate build a solid path to victory.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the state with 49.7% of the vote; Trump garnered 44.4%. since 1900, Virginia’s electoral history is not quite evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats winning the state in 56.7% of presidential elections and Republicans in 43.3%. In the modern era, Republicans had a winning streak from Nixon in 1968 all the way through former President George W. Bush in 2004. In 2008, former President Barack Obama took the state, and it’s been blue since then.

Past winners of the Virginia primary.

Past winners of the Virginia primary, by party, since the modern primary era:


  • 2016: Hillary Clinton
  • 2012: Barack Obama
  • 2008: Barack Obama
  • 2004: John Kerry
  • 2000: Al Gore
  • 1996: Bill Clinton
  • 1992: Bill Clinton
  • 1988: Jesse Jackson
  • 1984: Walter Mondale
  • 1980: Jimmy Carter
  • 1976: Uncommitted
  • 1972: Uncommitted


  • 2016: Donald Trump
  • 2012: Mitt Romney
  • 2008: John McCain
  • 2004: No Information
  • 2000: George W. Bush
  • 1996: Uncommitted
  • 1992: No Information
  • 1988: George H. W. Bush
  • 1984: Ronald Reagan
  • 1980: Ronald Reagan
  • 1976: Ronald Reagan
  • 1972: No Information

The Rantt Rundown

As one of 14 Super Tuesday states, Virginia will hold its Democratic presidential primary on March 3, 2020. Republicans canceled their presidential primary in Virginia in 2020, and all other primary contests, Democratic and Republican, will happen on June 9, 2020. Virginia’s primaries are open, meaning anyone can request a primary ballot, and Democrats reaching at least 15% of the vote will secure a proportionate number of the 122 delegates up for grabs. Virginia requires an ID to vote, and voters without one will receive a provisional ballot. As a swing state, Democrats historically have the edge, most recently with Hillary Clinton winning in 2016, though the state has also had long Republican streaks.

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Rantt 101 // 2020 / Democratic Party / Democratic Primary / Elections / Republican Primary / Virginia