Home Virginia Politics Comparing VAPLAN 2018 Virginia Legislative Scores to Districts’ Partisan “Tilts” Leads to...

Comparing VAPLAN 2018 Virginia Legislative Scores to Districts’ Partisan “Tilts” Leads to Some Interesting Findings

Including potential targets for 2019...

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Whether or not you think VAPLAN’s new Virginia legislative scorecard is spot-on, off-base, somewhere in between or whatever, the fact is that: a) it’s based on actual votes the members of the General Assembly took and/or bills sponsored in 2018; b) it cuts across a bunch of different issue areas, unlike many specific issue-area scorecards (e.g, VA LCV) or the right-wing “Middle Resolution PAC” scorecard, which heavily emphasizes healthcare and a couple other issues; c) it’s 100% transparent (see the spreadsheet here); and d) it was put together by someone (a progressive activist and strong Democrat) who watched the 2018 Virginia General Assembly extremely closely, who covered it every single day inside/out, and who does not have an agenda of her own beyond helping to elect Democrats and providing activists with the information and tools they need to be effective. To me, those are all positive qualities, even if you disagree on specific legislators’ rankings, specific metrics, particular methodologies, etc.

With that, here are a few things that jumped out at me from the VAPLAN 2018 Virginia legislative scorecard, specifically with regard to how legislators scored relative to their district tilts (e.g., how much Ralph Northam won – or lost – their districts by in 2018).

  • A few Republican State Senators in districts won by Ralph Northam last year really jumped out at me as having right-wing scores that absolutely do NOT reflect their districts.  For starters, Sen. Dick Black in in a district (SD-13) which Ralph Northam won with 55.2% of the vote, yet he scores a far-far-right negative 0.88 (note: negative 1.0 is the furthest right you can go). If Black were actually representing the views of his district’s voters, he’s be more like Democratic State Senator Lynwood Lewis, who scores a +0.44 in a district which Ralph Northam won with 58.2% of the vote; or Democratic State Senator John Edwards, who scores a +0.68 in a district which Ralph Northam won with 55.8% of the vote. So, the bottom line with Black is that he is wildly out of tune with his district and should be a top target for defeat in 2019.
  • Another Republican State Senator who jumped out at me as being far to the right of his district is Glen Sturtevant (SD-10), in a district Northam won with 57.7% of the vote, yet clocking in with a NEGATIVE 0.40 score (e.g., not as far-right as Black, but significantly to the right of center). Again, this guy has no business representing his blue district, and should be political target #1 for Democrats in 2019, as far as I can tell.
  • A few other Republican State Senators who are out of step with their districts and who should be top political targets for Dems in 2019 include: 1) Frank Wagner (SD-7), with a NEGATIVE 0.58 VAPLAN score in a district Northam won with 53.6% of the vote; 2) Siobhan Dunnavant (SD-12), with a NEGATIVE 0.47 VAPLAN score in a district Northam won with 51.5% of the vote; 3) Bill DeSteph (SD-8), with a NEGATIVE 0.75 VAPLAN score (far right) in a district where Northam got 49.8% of the vote; and 4) Bryce Reeves (SD-17), with a NEGATIVE 0.80 VAPLAN score (far right) in a district where Northam got 49.1% of the vote.
  • As for Democratic State Senators, two in particular jumped out at me as being wayyyy out of step with their districts: 1) Rosalyn Dance (SD-16), with a 0.00 VAPLAN score (dead center politically) in a deep-deep-blue district Northam won with a whopping 70.4% of the vote; and 2) Lionell Spruill (SD-5), with a 0.29 VPLAN score (just a bit above dead center) in an even-deeper-blue district where Ralph Northam performed the best last year, racking up 75.8% of the vote. Seems like Democrats can do better in both those districts…
  • On the House of Delegates side, top Republican targets for defeat next year should include: 1) David Yancey (HD-94), who has a NEGATIVE 0.38 VAPLAN score (solidly right) in a blue district Northam won with 56.0% of the vote; 2) Tim Hugo (HD-40), who has a NEGATIVE 0.60 VPLAN score (hard right) in a district Northam won with 54.7% of the vote; 3) Rob Bloxom (HD-100), who has a NEGATIVE 0.69 VPLAN score (hard right) in a district Northam won with 52.7% of the vote; 4) Glenn Davis (HD-84), with a NEGATIVE 0.43 VAPLAN score (solidly right wing) in a district Northam won with 52.1% of the vote; and 5) Roxann Robinson (HD-27), with a NEGATIVE 0.60 VAPLAN score (hard right) in a district Northam won with 50.9% of the vote.
  • Republican Delegates Rob Thomas (HD-28), Chris Stolle (HD-83), Chris Jones (HD-76), and Riley Ingram (HD-62) are all interesting cases. Thomas, with a relatively “moderate right wing” VAPLAN score of NEGATIVE 0.23 in a district Northam eked out with 50.8% of the vote, is being primaried from his (far) right. We’ll see if he survives that; if not, this district looks like a definite pickup opportunity for Democrats next year. Stolle (HD-83) is in a 50.3% Northam district and also has a relatively “moderate right wing” VPLAN score of NEGATIVE 0.29. Jones (HD-76) and Ingram (HD-62) are both in districts where Northam got just under 50% of the vote, and both are moderately conservative according to VAPLAN’s scorecard. So…potential Democratic targets here?
  • As for Democratic Delegates, a few jumped out at me as folks who could be a LOT more progressive than they were in 2018, given their districts’ Northam percentages and overall deep-blue leanings. For instance, Del. Luke Torian (HD-52) has a VAPLAN score of 0.00 (dead center politically), despite being in a deep-blue district Northam won with a whopping 75.7% of the vote. Del. Matthew James (HD-80) has a 0.07 VAPLAN score (just about dead center politically), despite being in a deep-blue district Northam won with 75.3% of the vote. Del. Jeff Bourne (HD-71) is in the district Northam won with the greatest percent of the vote last year (88.1%!), yet only has a 0.38 VAPLAN score (a moderate Dem). [NOTE: In stark contrast to Bourne, Del. Alfonso Lopez (HD-49) is in an 82.0% Northam district – a few points less than Bourne’s district – yet has a MUCH better 1.00 VAPLAN score (the most progressive score possible).]
  • A few other House Dems who jumped out at me because of differential between Northam percentages and VAPLAN 2018 scores include: 1) Mark Sickles (HD-43), with a 0.25 VAPLAN score in a 72.4% Northam district; 2) Kaye Kory (HD-38), with a 0.23 VAPLAN score in a 72.8% Northam district; 3) Paul Krizek (HD-44), with a 0.14 VAPLAN score in a 69.2% Northam district; and 4) Vivian Watts (HD-39), with a 0.29 VAPLAN score in a 69.1% Northam district.
  • Finally, a shoutout to House Dems who were strong progressives in blue/deep-blue districts: Alfonso Lopez (see above); Sam Rasoul (0.90 VAPLAN score in a 65.8% Northam district); Lee Carter (0.89 VAPLAN score in a 57.6% Northam district); Marcus Simon (0.88 VAPLAN score in a 74.6% Northam district); Jennifer Carroll-Foy (0.87 VAPLAN score in a 62.3% Northam district); Kelly Fowler (0.87 VAPLAN score in a 56.3% Northam district); David Toscano (0.86 VAPLAN score in a 79.2% Northam district); Mark Levine (0.79 VAPLAN score in a 76.9% Northam district); Danica Roem (0.79 VAPLAN score in a 57.1% Northam district); Elizabeth Guzman (0.78 VAPLAN score in a 56.4% Northam district); Kathy Tran (0.75 VAPLAN score in a 60.5% Northam district); Debra Rodman (0.75 VAPLAN score in a 53.5% Northam district); Mark Keam (0.71 VAPLAN score in a 69.7% Northam district); Kathleen Murphy (0.71 VAPLAN score in a 60.0% Northam district).

Did I miss anything here? Anything you agree with? Disagree with? Explain why, if you’re so inclined, in the comments section. Thanks!