Trump first Republican since 1948 to lose Virginia city

Joe Biden is the first Democrat since Harry Truman to win the city’s vote

Madeline Roth
Thursday 05 November 2020 20:45 GMT
The city of Lynchburg, Virginia has voted Democrat for the first time since 1948.
The city of Lynchburg, Virginia has voted Democrat for the first time since 1948. (AFP via Getty Images)
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The city of Lynchburg, Virginia — which is home to the private evangelical Christian school Liberty University — has supported Joe Biden for president, marking its first time going blue since 1948.

In the 2020 US election, Lynchburg voted Democrat with 48 percent of the city's vote going to Mr Biden, and 46 percent of the vote going to Donald Trump, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. That's reflective of the state's general voting trend, as Mr Biden won Virginia with 54 percent of the vote compared to Mr Trump's 45 percent.

Lynchburg, a city of about 80,000 people, is the home of Liberty University, whose former president, Jerry Falwell Jr, was a staunch Trump ally. In 2017, Mr Falwell Jr was appointed to lead the president's task force on higher education reform. Later that year, Mr Trump delivered the keynote address at the school’s commencement ceremony.

The city's decision to flip comes at a tumultuous time for the university, which has not only had to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, but has also weathered a PR crisis involving Mr Falwell Jr. The former president resigned in August 2020 after a series of scandals, including allegations that he and his wife had a sexual relationship with another man. Last month, Mr Falwell Jr sued Liberty University, alleging that they damaged his reputation.

It's unclear how much Mr Falwell Jr's public controversies swayed Lynchburg's election results. Nevertheless, the vote proves to be a historic moment for the longtime Republican city, which hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1948, when it went for Harry Truman. All in all, Mr Biden carried seven Virginia cities and counties, including Lynchburg, that were won by Mr Trump in 2016.

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