Why The A.P. called Virginia for Biden when early results showed him behind Trump.

The race call seemed to fly in the face of the numbers. Why did The Associated Press declare that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won Virginia, even though early results showed him trailing President Trump by double digits?

The A.P. said it had made the call at 7:31 p.m. based on early returns, and its own survey of the electorate found that Mr. Biden had defeated Mr. Trump in the once traditionally Republican state, which has trended Democratic in recent years.

Although only about 10 percent of the statewide vote had been counted, the A.P. said completed counts in a representative selection of precincts in communities across Virginia showed Mr. Biden “comfortably ahead of Trump.”

Hillary Clinton won Virginia by more than five points in 2016, and Mr. Trump did not seriously contest the state, which awards 13 electoral votes.

The state, once considered a bastion of Southern conservatism, has become more reliably Democratic in recent years, as its northern suburbs have been transformed into a sprawling exurb of Washington, D.C.

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