On February 4, 1861, Virginia voters elected 152 delegates to the convention called to consider secession. They also voted to hold a popular referendum on the issue if the convention decided that Virginia should secede from the Union. Most supporters of secession wanted swift action and opposed the referendum proposal, but opponents of secession generally favored requiring the ratification referendum. Voters in the central and southeastern counties, which had the largest concentrations of enslaved people in Virginia, elected more delegates who favored secession than did voters in other areas of the state where slavery was less important, and no more than one-third of the elected delegates favored immediate secession. Likewise, voters in the areas with the largest population of enslaved people also cast more votes against requiring the referendum than did voters in areas with fewer enslaved people. Overall, about two-thirds of Virginia's voters favored requiring the referendum, suggesting the relative weakness of secession sentiment in the state at that time. Most Virginia voters did not become secessionists during the winter of 1860–1861, which surprised the prosecession editor of an Abingdon Democratic newspaper who wrote, "the immediate secession candidates have been badly whipped—in fact, have been almost annihilated,—and the gentlemen representing the 'wait-a-bit' ticket triumphantly elected."