What you saw in Virginia was really a trend that had been visible in 2017 and 2018,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. “President Trump is really unpopular in the suburbs, and that motivates a lot of Democrats to turn out.”
But beyond Trump’s unpopularity, the shift on guns has helped flip the state’s once solidly red suburbs. Polls found that gun violence was the number one issue for Virginia voters, who showed bipartisan support for passing universal background checks and removing guns from people deemed to present a safety risk. “It used to be that Democrats wouldn’t talk about gun control outside of the most blue urban districts,” Farnsworth said, but no longer.