Home 2016 elections Can Dems Win Back the Virginia House of Delegates? Let’s Start By...

Can Dems Win Back the Virginia House of Delegates? Let’s Start By Winning a Bunch of These 17 “Clinton Districts!”

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This took a while, but courtesy of VPAP, we finally have full, official (as opposed to the early, unofficial numbers I procured a couple weeks ago) 2016 Presidential election results by Virginia House of Delegates (HoD) district. That’s very helpful, given that 2017 will see every single one of these HoD seats up for grabs (at least in theory; in practice, most HoD districts are not seriously contested, but that needs to change!).

See below for a graph of all 51 Virginia HoD districts won by Hillary Clinton. That’s right, I said 51 districts — out of 100, some advanced math tells us that would constitute a Democratic majority, again if we just won the districts Hillary Clinton (and in most if not all cases Barack Obama and/or Tim Kaine) won. So…next time you hear someone complaining about how Democrats just can’t possibly take back the Virginia House of Delegates due to horrible Republicans and their terriblenogoodevil gerrymandering, tell them they are simply wrong — in fact, there are 51 districts Democrats which absolutely could, maybe even should, win, if we could only figure out how to get our voters out in non-presidential years.

Note in the graphic below that there are 17 “Clinton districts” currently held by Republicans. Add those 17 to the 34 Democrats we currently have in the HoD, and you get…yep, 51 out of 100, a majority. Sensing a pattern here? 🙂 Now, of course I’m not thinking we can win back all these seats in one year, but there’s certainly no reason why we shouldn’t be able to win back a whole bunch of these – again, if we could only motivate Obama, Kaine and Clinton voters in those districts to get out and VOTE in 2017, not just in a presidential election year like 2016.

For the record, the “Clinton districts” currently held by a Republican delegate are (from lowest to highest Clinton percentage):

District 12 (Montgomery County, Giles County, Radford City, Pulaski County): Currently held by Del. Joseph Yost (R). Clinton won this district with 47% Trump got 45%). Tough one, but a possible pickup with a strong Democratic candidate/campaign.
District 21 (Virginia Beach, Cheseapeake): Currently held by Del. Ron Villanueva (R). Clinton won this district with 49% (Trump got 45%). A possible pickup with a strong Democratic candidate/campaign.
District 100 (Accomack County, Norfolk, Northampton County): Currently held by Del. Rob Bloxom (R). Clinton won this district with 49% (Trump got 47%). A possible pickup with a strong Democratic candidate/campaign.
District 72 (Henrico County): Currently held by Del. Jimmie Massey (R). Clinton won this district with 49% (Trump got 45%). A possible pickup with a strong Democratic candidate/campaign.
District 10 (Loudoun, Frederick and Clarke Counties): Currently held by Del. Randy Minchew (R). Clinton won this district with 49% (Trump got 45%). A possible pickup with a strong Democratic candidate/campaign.
District 94 (Newport News): Currently held by Del. David Yancey (R). Clinton won this district with 49% (Trump got 44%). Tough but potentially winnable; gotta tie all these Republicans to Trump, by the way.
District 73 (Henrico County): Currently held by Del. John O’Bannon (R). Clinton won this district with 50% (Trump got 43%). Tough but winnable if our presidential voters turn out.
District 51 (Prince William County): Currently held by Del. Rich Anderson (R). Clinton won this district with 50% (Trump got 44%). Again, tough but winnable if our presidential voters turn out.
District 31 (Prince William and Fauquier Counties): Currently held by Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R). Clinton won this district with 51% of the vote (Trump got 44%). No reason Dems can’t win this one.
District 68 (Chesterfield and Henrico Counties; Richmond City): Currently held by Del. Manoli Loupassi (R). Clinton won this district with 51% of the vote (Trump got 41%). Definitely winnable.
District 40 (Fairfax and Prince William Counties): Currently held by Del. Tim Hugo (R). Clinton won this district with 51% of the vote (Trump got 43%). Hugo gotta go.
District 50 (Prince William County, Manassas City): Currently held by Del. Jackson Miller (R). A 53% Clinton district, no reason why Dems can’t knock one of the worst Republicans out of the House of Delegates.
District 13 (Prince William County, Manassas Park City): Currently held by Del. “Sideshow Bob” Marshall (R). A 54% Clinton district; long past time for “Sideshow Bob” to get the hook.
District 2 (Prince William and Stafford Counties): Currently held by Del. Mark Dudenhefer (R). Hillary Clinton won this district with 56% of the vote. Gotta win this one.
District 32 (Loudoun County): Currently held by Del. Tag Greason (R). Hillary Clinton won this district with 57% of the vote. Definitely winnable. Do it!
District 42 (Fairfax County): Currently held by Del. Dave Albo (R). Hillary Clinton won this district with 57% of the vote! C’mon Dems, “Albo Must Go!”
District 67 (Fairfax and Loudoun Counties): Currently held by Del. Jim LeMunyon (R). Hillary Clinton won this district with 58% of the vote! C’mon Dems, get LeMunyon the heck outta there!

Finally, check out the VPAP map of presidential election results by House of Delegates district. Clearly, Dems are concentrated in the “urban/suburban crescent” – Hampton Roads to Richmond to Northern Virginia, plus places like Charlottesville and Roanoke City.

  • We have a lot of education to do about HoD races to do. Most people who aren’t involved in politics (and many who are) don’t know who their delegate is or what they do, which can present some challenges when trying to explain why the House of Delegates is important. But a good ground game can help with that.

    • So true.

    • Absolutely. And it’ll pay dividends in every election going forward if we can keep it up.

      • Kenny Allen Boddye

        I think that’s the part a lot of folks (including party insiders) miss – if we’re elected, we can keep our ground-level infrastructure in place and mobilize our supporters to get the word out for candidates up above and down below. There’s always talk of bottom-up, which is good, but middle-out also works as long as we’re making the right partnerships and running the right candidates.

        Myself and the rest of the PW Progress Coalition met this past weekend with Justin Fairfax, for example. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish once you start pairing house candidates with those running state-wide.

    • Actually, right now this is a really easy conversation. The 20 week abortion ban with the coupled class IV felony (2-10 years in state prison with a mandatory of 2 lays the groundwork for a reproductive rights battle. There’s a LOT of ammunition here, but we have to A) find solid candidates who can carry a coherent platform and actually identify with / propose solid ideas with the party estranged, and B) get money behind them. Activate Virginia (https://www.activatevirginia.org/) is working on this exact kind of thing right now.

      Also, GOTV is so critical it’s not even funny. We’re losing our tails off because we’re failing in outreach and education. People like LeMunyon are reducing class sizes without providing budgeting to handle the expansion, and that’s an issue that has to be struck. We need to get more involved in educating folks about the bills being filed and why they’re dangerous.

      • If Dem leaders would spend half as much time on “outreach and education” – plus finding and grooming great candidates in the Obama/Clinton districts – as they do complaining about gerrymandering, we’d be winning a lot more elections.

        • I think that’s really the drive we need to focus on this cycle, and we need to really get past 2016. We need to get solid candidates out who connect with the voters more than they do with the machinery that the voters are cringing about still. The Prince William Progress Coalition is a good example of that, because it’s a stab at the jugular of the House leadership in the form of Miller, and someone’s got to realize Bob Marshall is extremely vulnerable right now. I know there’s people weighing runs in 13 right now because it’s Sideshow Bob, but if we get the right candidate with the right messaging out there to just put pressure on him.. Marshall’s going to move more money into his race, and weaken the rest of the field for us.

        • Damn skippy.

  • Kenny Allen Boddye

    The district I’m running for – the 51st – is featured in the article. As you can see by the attached, it’s definitely a blue district; we just need to make the Republicans aware of that fact in November.

    I’m running on a platform of bringing progress to the lives of not only those in my district, but the over 8 million Virginians who reside in the commonwealth. Our current leadership in Richmond has misplaced priorities, and I’ll work tirelessly to change it.

    I can’t do it alone, though, and I’ll need a strong ground game to get my message out. Become a stakeholder in the fight for progress: https://secure.actblue.com/pages/boddye-for-progress/

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef482e6a500e697f73c3f9e58fbc835fee4857aa87862decf9608a17f2472132.png

    • Great stuff, go git’m! 🙂

    • Ron Henderson

      Good luck champ. I’m sure all those tea partiers in Prince William will love your Sanders-esque platform.

      • Ron Henderson

        How can you day it’s “definitely a blue district” when Clinton only got 50% of the vote?

      • Actually.

        Nichols held the seat until the 2009 TP uprising, 51 can’t be judged as a “strong hold” for the VAGOP, because Rich Anderson has only faced 1 challenger since taking office (Heddleston, 2013, 46.12-53.67 and was outspent by $2 per voter who turned up at the polls). That’s not a mandate at all. 55,562 voters (estimated) live in HoD 51, and only 12k are deciding the representation. That, by far, does not show a solid “demand” for Rich Anderson. He can be beat.

        • 2009 was a wipeout/tidal wave year for Republicans, so yeah, any Virginia House Republican elected that year in an otherwise Obama/Clinton district should be high on the list of Dem targets for 2017.

    • Godspeed, Mr. Boddye! But your link didn’t work. Get us a working one so we can get it sent out.

  • Ron Henderson

    Y’all can think what you want, but you’re underestimating Republicans’ resistance to voting for Trump in this election. This election was not nearly indicative of the party affiliation of the state’s regularly-voting population.

    • It’s something to keep in mind, certainly. But you lose every battle you don’t fight.

      • Ron Henderson

        No argument there!

        • I think we should tee-up candidates in every damn district, honestly. Every. Single. One. That’d be my goal every year. Frick, I’ll stand up in my district if need be. Lead, follow, or get out of the way, right?

          • Ron Henderson

            That’s a losing strategy. It’s much more effective to focus on where you actually have a chance to win.

          • Again, you lose all the battles you don’t fight. And I’m not saying pour $100,000 dollars into an R +127383 district. But don’t let ’em just take a knee and run the clock out.

          • Actually, just getting bodies up to run will help that. Look at the money. Most of these goons running unopposed are just taking money from their war chests and dumping cash into other districts that are facing a substantial challenge.

            If Yost can’t trickle money out to Rich Anderson in 51 to support his fight because he’s got a challenge, then Rich has a little soft underbelly starting to show because his cash machine isn’t coming to support him. It’s a domino affect at that point.

          • disqus_yJb6ycEy0r

            So what districts would you say we can win in of the 17 posted here?

    • If there was so much Republican “resistance to voting for Trump in this election,” then why did Clinton only win Virginia by 5.3 points, lower than Obama’s 6.3-point win in 2008 and just a point or so higher than Obama’s 3.9-point win in 2012? Also, how do you explain the fact that Clinton won the 31st by 7 points and Obama won the 31st by…yep, 7 points in 2012 (aka, NO DIFFERENCE)? Or that Clinton won the 51st by 6 points and Obama won the 51st by 4 points in 2012 (a difference of just 2 points for Clinton)? Or the 50th, where Clinton won 53% of the vote and Obama in 2012 won….yep, 53% of the vote? Or the 13th, where Clinton won 54% of the vote and Obama in 2012 won…55% of the vote (1 point MORE than Clinton)? Also consider that counties like PW, Loudoun, Chesterfield and Henrico are trending bluer over time, and the bottom line is that if Dems have strong candidates and get out their Obama/Clinton voters in 2017, we most certainly CAN – also assuming a win by Ralph Northam – pick up a bunch of seats in Obama/Clinton districts. The only question is how many.

    • The resistance to Trump shown by their votes shouldn’t be ignored, however. Over the next six months as the corporate cabinet start to enact corporate friendly policies that completely disadvantage voters and negatively impact their life, the GOP will pay for it. That, is where Democrats have to drop this centrist policy game and get back to being a people oriented machine that gives actual answers of “Hey, we know it’s broke, we know we screwed up, but we’re going to fix this”. ESPECIALLY when VA GOP Republicans consistently refuse to alienate themselves from Trump or the national party.

      It’s not something to harp on now like it’s a guarantee, but it’s a trend that needs to be watched.

  • Kenny Allen Boddye

    I was made aware of the fact that my original fundraising link was broken, here it is again for anyone who wants to contribute to turning the 51st blue; please share far and wide – https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/boddye-for-progress

  • Septimus

    Excited about Karrie Delaney running against LeMunyon in the 67th district – I feel like we’ve got a good candidate in a winnable district that was somehow unopposed in 2015.

    • I haven’t talked to her, but I hear good things. Definitely a district we need to pick up against a really bad Republican…

  • bobgoldstein

    It would be very useful for every Dem candidate if DPVa could come up with a unifying platform and slogan for everyone to run on. As awful and as bogus as it was, the Republicans’ 1994 “Contract with America” was enormously helpful in nationalizing the mid-term Congressional election and enabling them to take back the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.

    It wasn’t so much that the list of simple-minded “reforms” in the Contract with America was so brilliant and persuasive (although it was purposely crafted to include only items that, in the way they were worded, garnered at least 60% approval in poll tests), it was simply the fact all of their candidates could point to SOMETHING that they were running on and that allegedly would solve all of America’s problems.

    Our Virginia Democratic legislative candidates are left to fend for themselves in crafting a message that will be clear and compelling enough to get voters off their butts and out to the polls in November of an odd-numbered year. If every single Dem candidate had a single unified message that could be promoted statewide by the Party, it would make their individual voices within their own districts so much stronger and easier for the electorate to hear.

    My view is that in 2017, the voters who turned out this past November to vote for Hillary and reject Trump will be aching to have the opportunity to send a message by voting Democratic. But if the three statewide candidates and the DPVa could create and publicize a “Contract with Virginia” (or whatever the slogan would be), it would benefit candidates all the way down the ticket. Otherwise, voters might indeed turn out to vote for Ralph Northam, but not even bother to keep voting Democratic as far down as Lt. Gov. and Atty General, let alone for the Dem Delegate candidates.

    So in addition to creating a stronger urgency for Democratic voters to turn out, a unified message is essential to not repeating the scenario we’ve seen in so many recent Gubernatorial cycles: the Democratic candidate is elected Governor, but we still get slaughtered in the House of Delegates races. As Lowell has pointed out, it’s not simply a matter of gerrymandering. If the Republicans’ 2011 gerrymander had indeed brilliantly packed a Republican voting majority into more than 50 House Districts, how could Hillary (and other Dem candidates in even-numbered years) win a majority of Delegate Districts? What kills us is the lack of Dem turnout in odd-numbered years PLUS the failure to vote Democratic all the way down the ballot. As Republicans have shown us, if we can attach ALL of our Democratic candidates to a well-publicized unified platform, it could not only increase Dem turnout but also reverse the trend of drop-off of votes for Dem candidates below the top of the ticket.

    My personal view is that in 2017 it would be easy to elevate Virginia’s election to a referendum on what is certain to be a catastrophic bloodbath in DC (at least from the perspective of anyone who voted for Hillary last month). I believe that a candidate for Delegate in any one of those 51 House Districts that Hillary carried ought to ALWAYS refer to their opponent as “Trump supporter Tag Greason” or “Trump supporter Rich Anderson” or “Trump supporter Jim LeMunyon” and then link that person to whatever the most recent atrocity is that has been committed by “Trump and the Washington Republicans”. Frankly, this might be successful even in Districts that Trump carried by less than ten points, particularly if this message were targeted at precincts that went for Hillary or were 50/50.

    But regardless of whether candidates use that “tie them to Trump” strategy, it is crucial that they utilize a POSITIVE message as well. It seems to me that Virginia Democrats in legislative races don’t do enough to emphasize the positive changes to people’s lives that a Democratic majority in Richmond could achieve (or at least, that their message isn’t heard clearly and loudly enough by the voters). If the DPVa could put together a short, brief list of things that Democratic legislators could do, given the chance (i.e. the majority) to do them, that would bring real positive change to the lives of all Virginians, and then BRAND that platform with a simple slogan that could be promoted and utilized by all Dem candidates, it could be powerfully effective.

    Now, I want to make it clear that by “platform”, I’m not referring to the kind of infinitely parsed and endlessly worded document that we see enacted by the national party Presidential Conventions. Those documents, while they give the various factions in each party the opportunity to scratch each other eyes out every four years over their policy differences, are completely meaningless because average voters never read them or care about them. I’m talking about something that is crafted for a purely POLITICAL purpose, which is to strengthen the DPVa’s message for ALL of its candidates in THIS particular election.

    Democrats should not fight furiously over this document if it happens to leave out one or two issues that might be particularly dear to them. The omission of a particular issue should not be seen as an indication of the Party’s abandonment of its importance, and the inclusion of some other, perhaps less critical topic should not be seen as its elevation to one of greater relevance. The goal should be to find common agreement on a list of things that a large majority of Virginians would see as obviously positive achievements. As Democrats, we often see the great complexity of important issues and because of that we resist simple-minded slogans and “empty promises”. But as Donald Trump proved in 2016, it doesn’t hurt, politically speaking, to over-promise and simple-minded is actually much better, politically speaking, than too-complicated. The one essential thing is that WE SHOULD HAVE A PLATFORM, and we should BRAND THAT PLATFORM WITH A SLOGAN.

    As horrible as November 8th was for America and our Party, the biggest gains in American politics are often made after a cataclysmic loss. The Republicans made huge gains nationwide in 1994, 2010 and 2014, right after major Democratic Presidential victories. But we need to elevate the importance of the 2017 election, and the way to do it is to have a STATEWIDE campaign platform for ALL Democratic candidates.