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How Donald Trump Kept Marco Rubio at Bay in Virginia

Republican Candidates Take Part In Debates At Reagan Library In Simi ValleyRepublican Candidates Take Part In Debates At Reagan Library In Simi Valley
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Photograph by Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Donald Trump just racked up his fifth straight win on Super Tuesday, with major media organizations projecting him the victor in delegate-rich Virginia. Assuming it holds, that’s a major disappointment to Marco Rubio, who, while tamping expectations, hoped for an upset there.

The geographic breakdown will be telling. The returns so far indicate that Rubio carried the Northern Virginia suburbs — one of the most populous and upscale parts of the state, stocked with defense and tech workers and much of the Republican professional class itself — and the more urban and suburban locales in and around Richmond.

It looks like Trump swamped him everywhere else. The Appallachian southwestern reaches of the state, for example, could hardly feel further from gilded Washington suburbs in the north. Rubio’s strongholds overlapped heavily with those that lifted Barack Obama to his second straight win in the state in his 2012 reelection race. The difference is that Trump was able to keep the gap close enough even in places where his margins did not prove insurmountable.