Virginia 2016 House Race Ratings (3/26/16)

Virginia 2016 House Race Ratings (3/26/16)

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The following ratings assume that the new Congressional district lines (due to the apparently successful lawsuit against race-based gerrymandering in the 3rd CD and surrounding CDs) take effect this year, as expected. Of course, that’s complicated by the fact that there are two recommendations for new lines (see here and here), but they’re similar enough to each other that I don’t think they significantly change the analysis presented below. I also rate the general elections under two scenarios: 1) a straight-up Trump vs. Clinton presidential contest; 2) a three-way presidential contest between Trump, Clinton and whoever the #nevertrump folks come up with.

District 1
District lean in a presidential election year: Leans solidly Republican (e.g., went for Romney over Obama by 7 points in 2012).
Last House race results: Went 56%-41% for Republican Rep. Rob Wittman over Democrat Adam Cook in 2012; went overwhelmingly for Wittman over Democrat Norm Mosher 63%-34% in 2014.
2016 Prediction: Wittman is highly likely to win in either presidential scenario, although by a smaller margin than 15 points in the Trump-only case (assuming that in that case, a bunch of Republicans might just stay home). The likely Democratic nominee at this point appears to be Matt Rowe. If Rowe runs a great campaign AND the Republicans completely implode at the top of the ticket, I guess you never know. On the other hand, if it’s a three-way race for president between Clinton, Trump and #nevertrump, that could result in higher Republican turnout and hurt all the downballot Democratic candidates (since right-leaning voters, whether they love or hate Trump, will likely vote Republican for House of Representatives while they’re in the voting booth), including in this district.
Discussion: After his likely reelection, Wittman will turn his attention to running for the GOP 2017 gubernatorial nomination against Ed Gillespie and whoever else (Ken Cuccinelli?).

District 2
District lean in a presidential election year: Purple (e.g., went for Obama over Romney 50%-48% in 2012)
Last House race results: Went for Republican Rep. Scott Rigell over Democrat Paul Hirschbiel, Jr. 54%-46% in 2012; went for Rigell over Democrat Suzanne Patrick 59%-41% in 2014.
2016 Prediction: With Rigell stepping down, I’m assuming Rep. Randy Forbes (moving over from the 4th CD) will defeat his Republican opponents (Scott Taylor and Pat Cardwell) in their primary, and then win easily in November unless Democrats come up with a strong candidate (or hell, ANY candidate!) to run against him. So far Democrats don’t appear to have done so, and time’s running out. If Democrats DO come up with a strong candidate, they have a good shot in the Trump-only case, a much lower shot in the Clinton/Trump/#nevertrump case.
Discussion: So far, it sounds like Jody Wagner, Lynwood Lewis, and other potentially strong Democrats in this district have said “thanks, but no thanks.” Not sure why that’s the case, especially given that it’s an open seat with Rigell stepping down, and with national Republicans looking very weak right now.

District 3
District lean in a presidential election year: Overwhelmingly Democratic prior to the new district lines (e.g., went 79% for Obama in 2012); will be less overwhelming but still safely Democratic in 2016.
Last House race results: Went for Democrat Bobby Scott over Republican Dean Longo 81%-18% in 2012; Scott unopposed in 2014.
2016 Prediction: Rep. Bobby Scott will cruise to victory, probably unopposed.
Discussion: Other than the fact that Bobby Scott rocks, nothing more to add here. :)

District 4
District lean in a presidential election year: WAS “purple” (e.g., went for Romney by 1 point in 2012) prior to the new district lines; now will be solidly Democratic.
Last House race results: Went for Republican Rep. Randy Forbes over Democrat Ella Ward 57%-43% in 2012; went for Forbes over Democrat Elliott Fausz 60%-38% in 2014.
2016 Prediction: Likely that State Sen. Donald McEachin will defeat Chesapeake City Council member Ella Ward (note: this week, McEachin was endorsed by Gov. McAuliffe, LG Ralph Northam and AG Mark Herring, with most likely many more big endorsements to come) and easily pick up this seat for the Democrats in November over likely Republican nominee, Sheriff Mike Wade.
Discussion: I’ve been a strong McEachin supporter since 2006, when he endorsed Jim Webb for Senate, and then in 2007 when a lot of Webb supporters (myself included) helped him defeat turncoat “Democrat” Benny Lambert (who had endorsed George Allen over Webb for US Senate!). Plus, McEachin is a strong progressive and environmentalist. So obviously, the idea of Rep. McEachin makes me quite happy. :)

District 5
District lean in a presidential election year: Leans strongly Republican (e.g., went for Romney over Obama by 7 points in 2012).
Last House race results: Went for Republican Rep. Robert Hurt over Democrat John Douglass 55%-43% in 2012; went for Hurt over Democrat Lawrence Gaughan 61%-36% in 2014.
2016 Prediction: Jane Dittmar will be the Democratic nominee. There’s a five-way race for the GOP nomination, with Rep. Robert Hurt (R) stepping down. I’m assuming Republicans will nominate State Sen. Tom Garrett. In the general election, I’d say Dittmar has a definite shot in the “Trump-only” scenario; not as much in the Trump/#nevertrump case, since there will probably be a lot more Republican votes for Congress in that scenario.
Discussion: See above. I’d add that Dittmar appears to be a strong Democratic nominee, and that Garrett is a right wingnut (e.g., see here). Finally…can you believe this district was represented by the superb Tom Perriello until the Tea Party wipeout of 2010? Such a huge downgrade from Perriello to Hurt (or Garrett, if he wins).

District 6
District lean in a presidential election year: Overwhelmingly Republican (e.g., went for Romney over Obama by 20 points, 59%-39%, in 2012)
Last House race results: Went for Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte over Democrat Andy Schmookler 65%-35% in 2012; went by over 60 points for Goodlatte over Libertarian and Independent Green candidates in 2014.
2016 Prediction: Goodlatte will cruise to victory no matter what the presidential scenario.
Discussion: I still haven’t heard of a Democratic candidate in this district. It’s unfortunately, because Goodlatte (or as I call him BADlatte) is a truly horrible member of Congress and richly deserves to be challenged.

District 7
District lean: Overwhelmingly Republican (e.g., went for Romney over Obama by 15 points, 57%-42%, in 2012)
Last House race results: Went for Republican Eric Cantor over Democrat Wayne Powell 58%-41% in 2012; went for Republican Dave Brat over Democrat Jack Trammell 62%-38% in 2014.
2016 Prediction: I see no scenario in which Rep. Brat loses this election, unfortunately (although it will be closer in the “Trump only” case). I am, of course, strongly rooting for the Democratic candidate, presumably Eileen Bedell.
Discussion: Brat’s as loony and extreme as they get in Congress, and that’s saying something. He badly, badly needs to go. Eileen Bedell would be a huge improvement, if only the normally Republican voters of the 7th CD would not just vote for anyone with an “R” by their name, no matter how whacked out.

District 8
District lean in a presidential election year: Overwhelmingly Democratic (e.g., went 68%-31% for Barack Obama in 2012)
Last House race results: Went for Democrat Rep. Jim Moran over Republican Patrick Murray 65%-31% in 2012; went for Democrat Don Beyer over Republican Micah Edmond 63%-31% in 2014.
2016 likely nominees: Rep. Don Beyer (D) vs. either Charles Hernick (R) or Michael Webb (R)
2016 prediction: Rep. Don Beyer safe for reelection under either presidential scenario
Discussion: Beyer is doing a fine job in Congress, proud that he’s my representative.

District 9
District lean in a presidential election year: Overwhelmingly Republican (e.g., went 63%-35% for Romney in 2012)
Last House race results: Went for Republican Morgan Griffith over Democrat Anthony Flaccovento 61%-39% in 2012; went for Griffith 72%-24% over an independent candidate (William Carr, Jr.) in 2014.
2016 Prediction: Unfortunately, Griffith is highly likely to win reelection over either Derek Kitts (the favorite for the nomination, from what I hear). Bill Bunch or Clay Pugh.
Discussion: Remember, this part of the state went heavily for Trump in the Virginia GOP’s 2016 primary, so Trump at the top of the ticket shouldn’t really be a drag here, as it could be in many other districts. As for Griffith, he is utterly abysmal (a climate science denier freak, among other faults), really hurts the people of his district and absolutely should be tossed out of office in November (but almost certainly won’t be — ugh!).

District 10
District lean in a presidential election year: Purple (e.g., Mitt Romney won this district by just 1 point, 50%-49%, in 2012)
Last House race results: Went for Republican Frank Wolf over Democrat Kristin Cabral 58%-39% in 2012; went for Republican Barbara Comstock over Democrat John Foust 56%-40% in 2014.
2016 Prediction: According to Larry Sabato, this one is “Likely Republican,” and I have no reason to disagree with that analysis. However, in the “Trump only” case, I can definitely see Democratic nominee LuAnn Bennett giving Comstock a run for her money, especially if the Bennett campaign can tie Comstock closely to Trump in people’s minds.
Discussion: I’d heard for years that when Frank Wolf retired, Democrats could (or even “would”) pick up this district. So…Frank Wolf retired in 2014, and Democrat John Foust got wiped out by Comstock. At this point, I’m done predicting that Democrats can win this district for House of Representatives. It’s unfortunate, because this is the exact type of district (also the 2nd CD) that Democrats absolutely MUST win if they are to take back the House anytime soon.

District 11
District lean in a presidential election year: Strongly Democratic (e.g., went 62%-36% for Barack Obama in 2012).
Last House race results: Went for Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly over Republican Chris Perkins 61%-35% in 2012; Went for Connolly over Republican Suzanne Scholte 57%-40% in 2014.
2016 likely nominees: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) and possibly no Republican candidate.
2016 Prediction: Rep. Gerry Connolly safe for reelection under either presidential scenario
Discussion: Connolly’s doing an excellent job in the House and should be there as long as he wants; the only question is whether he runs for statewide office at some point.