If the Democratic collapse of 2009 in Northern Virginia could be explained in one simplistic sentence, Democrats failed to bring two key components of the Obama coalition to the polls: minority voters who have a lower propensity to vote in off-years, and middle-class suburban voters who were persuaded to vote for a suburban Republican over a rural Democrat. In few places was this more apparent than in Prince William County, a county split between these two elements. The 29th Senate District, the only State Senate district in the new Democratic plan comprised of a majority of Prince William voters, is held precariously by 84-year-old veteran Senator Chuck Colgan. Colgan has surprised many by hanging on to his seat this long, but it is doubtful he will continue to serve through the next redistricting cycle.
After splitting a dizzying 14 precincts to create this district, can Senator Colgan hold on if he decides to run again, and can Democrats hold the seat after him? I calculated the partisan performance of each precinct, weighing split precincts based on the percentage of the population within the 29th District, and concluded that in the last five elections, the new 29th Senate District was 51.5% Democratic–with a whiplash-inducing dropoff between Obama’s 2008 victory and Creigh Deeds’ 2009 loss of 16.5%. However, Democrats will have to find a way to incite Hispanic and black voters to come out before standing a chance in an off-year. 2004-2009 precinct map below the fold (click all maps to embiggen).