(In related news: Hell Freezes Over)
It was a long night but, at exactly 11:30 p.m., the geeks who follow the individual precinct returns acknowledged what I predicted last week: Jim Webb won the U.S. Senate seat over George Allen.
It was neither an overwhelming win nor even a pretty one. The final numbers showed massive Webb strength in northern Virginia, with a killer 60,000+ vote margin in Fairfax County and small margins in Prince William and Loudoun. That was coupled with a spread of 40-48% in every Congressional district downstate, with the exception of the majority-black Third which gave Webb a robust two-to-one margin.
Allen showed his historic strength in western Virginia and Southside. He also surprised (at least me) by claiming a narrow win in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, two jurisdictions carried by the Dems in the Governor’s race. In the end, it was the overall numbers, particularly the absentee ballots, from Fairfax and Arlington that did him in. He did not have the margin downstate to survive that last 10,000 vote surge.
Give credit to the Democratic Committees all over the state which hung tough to give Webb solid numbers in every jurisdiction, even ones that he barely visited during the brief campaign. George Allen was the most successful Virginia Republican politician of his generation. This was a battle for the ages.