Home 2017 Races Ranking the Competitiveness of Virginia’s House of Delegates Districts (6/21/17 update)

Ranking the Competitiveness of Virginia’s House of Delegates Districts (6/21/17 update)

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I’ve been keeping track of Virginia’s House of Delegates districts, and specifically which ones have either Democratic incumbents or challengers. My first take on this was back in late March; I wanted to update the list based on Democratic primary results, new candidates recruited, Trump’s continued low approval rating, Democratic over-performance in multiple special elections across the country, and FAR greater Democratic than Republican turnout on June 13 here in Virginia. As of the moment, I count 12 districts without a Democratic candidate/incumbent, or to put it in a more positive way, I count 88 out of 100 districts with either a Democratic incumbent or challenger to a Republican. Nice! Also good news — we’ve got Democrats running against all 17 Republican incumbents holding down districts won by Hillary Clinton this past November. So, overall, things are looking good right now – nice job by everyone involved in recruiting candidates, including Del. David Toscano, Del. Rip Sullivan, Del. Alfonso Lopez, Trent Armitage, independent groups, etc.

Now, the question is which districts should be given the highest priority in terms of time, attention, effort, money, etc. Here’s a totally unscientific list – albeit one that comes from talking to knowledgeable people, looking at the districts and candidates, etc. – of the top 17 districts [UPDATED to 18], (roughly) ranked from the best chance of Dems winning the district to the worst chance in November.

  1. District 2 (56% Hillary Clinton district): With incumbent Del. Mark Dudenhefer (R) stepping down, with this PW/Stafford County district having gone so strongly for Clinton, AND with one of two promising Democratic candidates (Jennifer Carroll Foy and Josh King) — note that this race has gone to a recount, with Carroll Foy leading by 12 votes – running against Republican Laquan Austion, HD-2 is practically a certain pickup this November, barring something truly unforeseen. The only question is whether the next delegate from this district will be Jennifer Carroll Foy or Josh King. [UPDATE: In the recount, Jennifer Carroll Foy maintained her lead over Josh King and is now the Democratic nominee in this district. Go get’m!]
  2. District 42 (57% Hillary Clinton district): With the retirement of long-time incumbent Del. Dave Albo (R), Democratic nominee Kathy Tran has a great shot at being the next delegate from this district. Tran’s opponent is “extreme Tea Party activist” Lolita Mancheno-Smoak. Go Kathy Tran go!
  3. District 67 (58% Hillary Clinton district): This Fairfax County/Loudoun County district has an incumbent Republican (Del. Jim LeMunyon) sitting in a big-time Clinton seat, and Democrat Karrie Delaney challenging him. Excellent pickup opportunity here.
  4. District 13 (54% Hillary Clinton district): This PW County/Manassas Park City district’s a must-win, with crazy Del. “Sideshow Bob” Marshall (R-Outer Space) holding it down and Democrat Danica Roem looking to send him to a merciful retirement. The key here, as it is in many districts, is to minimize Democratic voter “dropoff” from the presidential election. If so, we definitely should win. Let’s do it!
  5. District 32 (57% Hillary Clinton district): Democrat David Reid is running against the pathetic Del. Tag Greason (R) in this Loudoun County district. We definitely need to win this one, and can certainly do so if Democrats turn out this November.
  6. District 31 (51% Hillary Clinton district): Democrat Elizabeth Guzman is the nominee to take on Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R) in this Prince William County/Fauquier County district. Strong pickup opportunity here.
  7. District 51 (51% Hillary Clinton district): Democratic nominee Hala Ayala is taking on Del. Rich Anderson (R) in this PW County district. A winnable seat, given a strong candidate (which we appear to have) and a strong campaign (we’ll see…but hopefully).
  8. District 72 (49% Hillary Clinton district): With the announcement by incumbent Del. Jimmie Massie (R) that he will not seek reelection to this increasingly “blue” Henrico County district, Democrat Schuyler VanValkenburg certainly would seem to have a shot if the anti-Trump “wave” is as strong in November as it is now!
  9. District 21 (49% Hillary Clinton district)Kelly Fowler (D) is taking on Del. Ron Villanueva (R), who had a lackluster Republican primary, winning far fewer votes than Fowler did in her primary. So…this Virginia Beach/Chesapeake district is definitely winnable with a strong campaign, plus (of course) fired-up Democrats who turn out at the polls in November.
  10. District 12 (47% Hillary Clinton district):  Democrats have a strong candidate in this Giles County/Montgomery County/Pulaski County/Radford City district with Chris Hurst, but Clinton barely won it over Trump and there’s a Republican incumbent (Joseph Yost) holding it down since 2012, so…it’s winnable but won’t be easy.
  11. District 94 (49% Hillary Clinton district): This Newport News district is currently held by Del. David Yancey (R), with Zack Wittkamp the Democratic challenger. Winnable but won’t be easy.
  12. District 50 (53% Hillary Clinton district): Del. Jackson Miller (R) lost a special election for Prince William County Clerk of the Circuit Court to Democrat Jackie Smith in mid-April, leaving him in a weakened condition to fend off Democrat Lee Carter in November. Still, I am lowering this one a few notches, because I think it would have been more winnable without an incumbent than with one.
  13. District 68 (51% Hillary Clinton district): Democrat Dawn Adams is taking on Del. Manoli Loupassi (R) in this Chesterfield County/Henrico County/Richmond City district. Will be tough, but definitely winnable.
  14. District 40 (51% Hillary Clinton district): Democrat Donte Tanner is running against the very tough Del. Tim Hugo (R) in this Fairfax/Prince William Counties district. Will need a “wave” and a strong campaign to win this one.
  15. District 73 (50% Hillary Clinton district): Democrat Debra Rodman is taking on Del. John O’Bannon (R) in increasingly “blue” Henrico County. Will be tough, but you never know, especially if we continue to see Democrats “over-perform” by 8, 10 or more points as they have in special elections for Congress so far this year.
  16. District 100 (49% Hillary Clinton district): Democrat Willie Randall is running against Del. Rob Bloxom (R) in this Accomack and Northampton Counties + Norfolk City district. Another tough one, but winnable with a very big “wave.”
  17. District 10 (49% Hillary Clinton district): Democrat Wendy Gooditis is running against Del. Randy Minchew (R) in this Loudoun, Frederick and Clarke County district. Tidal wave, anyone?
  18. District 85 (won by Trump by 1 point; won by Cooch by 2 points, etc.): Democrat Cheryl Turpin running against Del. Rocky Holcomb (R) in this Virginia Beach district. Note that Turpin lost to Holcomb 53%-47% in a special election in January, but that turnout should be MUCH higher in November. Again, I think we need a super-strong wave to win this one…

Any others you think I should add? Honestly, I’d say it would be a superb showing if Democrats picked up 10-12 of these districts. Also, as last night in Georgia and South Carolina showed, it’s relatively easy for Democrats to “over-perform” in “red” districts; it’s a LOT harder to actually seal the deal and win the election…