Home Virginia Politics Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Eleven, It Gets Better

Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Eleven, It Gets Better

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Welcome to this twelve part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. Thank you for reading, look back at the past entries here: Day One, Competitive Districts. Day Two, Turnout Problems. Day Three, Past Mistakes. Day Four, Downstate Democrats. Day Five, Unchallenged Incumbents. Day Six, Present Opportunities. Day Seven, Democratic Trends. Day Eight, Swing Voters. Day Nine, 2021 Redistricting. Day Ten, Independent Redistricting. Thank you for reading.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me …

A blueing electorate, increasingly racially diverse. While Virginia is growing fast enough to pick up an extra Congressional seat in 2020, it’s also becoming less white. Projections from the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia show increasing shares of Hispanics and Asian-Americans across the Commonwealth through 2040.

It will take time, but there’s an upside to this demographic trend. With each year, Virginia will become a little bit more diverse, some districts faster than others. Day by day, the younger, more diverse population will turn of age and join the ranks of the potential electorate.

State Senator Chuck Colgan’s 29th Senate District tops the list as one of the districts with the largest gap between the electorate and the overall population. It’s a volatile district now because of turnout issues from the Hispanic population. John Miller’s 1st is another similar district, but from a growing African-American population instead.

Among competitive Republican-held districts, the 7th (Wagner) in Virginia Beach and 17th (Reeves) in Central Virginia stand out for increasing diversity, from both the African-American population and the Hispanic population.

The State Senate district with the lowest increase in diversity in the future? Puckett’s 28th district in Southwest Virginia.

In the House of Delegates, the districts becoming more diverse are the 52nd (Torian) and 13th (Marshall). Bob Marshall barely survived 2013, when demographic trends against him I have a hard time seeing him surviving past 2017. But the issues with turnout we discussed previously also argue that a high turnout governor’s race may be the best time to take him out, not 2015.

Some surprises? The 26th around Harrisonburg has a growing Hispanic population, but not enough to make the seat competitive. Except for Marshall’s seat, Futrell’s 2nd, and the hopefully soon to be vacant seat in the Eastern Shore, most of the districts with the largest gap between voting age population and the population at large are already highly Democratic seats.

There is the same cluster in Prince William we’ve already discussed, the 31st (Lingamfelter), 50th (Miller), and 51st (Anderson). These are all seats where Republicans hope they can hold out long enough to get another shot at redistricting in 2021 to keep them red. The 94th in Newport News (Yancey) not only is a district that has shown strong Democratic trends the past few cycles, but also has a growing African-American population.

On the other side of the coin, the districts where we won’t see much change tend to be Republican. In the 1st (Kilgore) the electorate may actually be getting a little bit whiter with demographic shifts. All other districts will have small, almost barely notable changes in their electorate overall. The 48th (Brink) in Arlington will be one of the few Democratic districts to see little diversification. Among competitive districts, the 34th (Comstock), 32nd (Greason), and 67th (LeMunyon) are ones where we can’t count on demographic trends to help us in the future; Democrats need to figure out how to win with the voters that exist now.

Well, that’s it for today. Tune in tomorrow for our last day. For now, vote below on your thoughts of a Mark Warner presidential run!

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