I wasn’t going to post predictions, mostly because I hadn’t seen any reliable polling, but now that CNU has released a survey, I feel comfortable taking a stab at select State Senate races (I’ll probably take a shot at the House of Delegates in coming days. My predictions are based on the CNU polling (+13 generic ballot advantage for Republicans in both State Senate and House of Delegates races), internal polling results I’ve seen or heard rumors about (but in the latter case, I can’t confirm them and therefore place little if any confidence in them), the latest campaign finance numbers from the State Board of Elections/VPAP, what I’m reading, seeing, hearing from Democrats – including campaign operatives – and expected turnout (very low, which unfortunately but clearly favors Republicans). With that…
SD 1 (solid “blue” district that Mark Warner won by 16 points in 2014 and Mark Herring won by 14 points in 2013) — Sen. John Miller (D) vs. Mark Matney (R): Matney has almost no money whatsoever, so Safe Democratic Retention.
SD 6 (fairly “blue” district that Mark Warner won by 8 points in 2014 and Mark Herring won by 6 points in 2013) — Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D) vs. Richard Ottinger (R): Lewis has a huge cash advantage, so Likely Democratic Retention.
SD 7 (“purple-reddish” district that Mark Warner LOST by 3 points and Mark Herring LOST by 6 points) — Sen. Frank Wagner (R) vs. Gary McCollum (D): The district leans red, cash-on-hand was close to even on 8/31, but McCollum has run into some serious headwinds of late. So…unfortunately, I’d say Likely Republican Retention.
SD 8 (solid “red” district that both Mark Warner and Mark Herring lost, by 9 and 10 points respectively) — Bill DeSteph (R) vs. Dave Belote (D): Would probably be “safe” Republican, but the money’s about even so I’ll go with Likely Republican Retention.
SD 10 (“Purplish” district that both Mark Warner and Mark Herring won, by 2 points each) — Glen Sturtevant (R) vs. Dan Gecker (D): Gecker’s had a big fundraising advantage as of 8/31, so I’m going to make this one a Slightly Leans Democratic Pickup.
SD 11 (VERY strong “red” district that Mark Warner lost by 15 points and Mark Herring by 16 points) — Amanda Chase (R) vs. Wayne Powell (D): Chase also has a big cash advantage, so Safe Republican Retention.
SD 12 (Another strong “red” district that Mark Warner lost by 9 points and Mark Herring by 12 points) — Deborah Repp (D) vs. Siobhan Dunnavant (R): Dunnavant has far outraised Repp, so combined with the strong “red” disrict lean, Safe Republican Retention.
SD 13 (Another Republican-leaning district, this one lost by Mark Warner 44%-53% in 2014, also one in which freakin’ E.W. Jackson got 49% of the vote!) — Jill McCabe (D) vs. Sen. Dick Black (R). They’re about even in cash, but this is a very tough district for Democrats, particularly in and odd/off-year election, so…Leans Republican Retention.
SD 16 (Overwhelmingly “blue” district which Mark Herring won by 38 points in 2013) — only included on this list because there’s a wild card, “independent” Joe Morrissey vs. the otherwise-automatic winner Rosalyn Dance (D). We’ll see what Morrissey does, but for the moment it’s looking good for Dance. Safe Democratic Retention (assuming Morrissey’s really out of the race for good).
SD 19 (Overwhelmingly “red” district, one which the bat****-crazy E.W. Jackson won by 18 points…too bad because the Democratic candidate here, by all accounts, is excellent!) — David Suetterlein (R) vs. Mike Hamlar (D). I would have made this Safe Republican given the deep-“red” nature of the district, but Hamlar’s running a spirited race and has raised a good amount of money, so I’ll be generous and go with Likely Republican Retention.
SD 20 (“Red” district, which Mark Herring lost by a whopping 18 points in 2013, and which Mark Warner lost by 4 points in 2014) — Sen. Bill Stanley (R) vs. Kim Adkins (D). Stanley has a big cash-on-hand advantage (5:1) over Adkins, in addition to the district’s strong Republican lean. So…Safe Republican Retention
SD 21 (“Purplish-blue” district, which Mark Herring won by 2 points and Mark Warner won by 12 points) — Sen. John Edwards (D) vs. Nancy Dye (R) vs. Don Caldwell (Dem-turned-Independent). This SHOULD be a lean to the Democratic incumbent, but I hear Dye is working hard (e.g., going to door to door) and that Edwards really isn’t. Plus, there’s the Caldwell factor. So…Tossup.
SD 29 (Solid “blue” district, which Mark Herring won by 18 points, but which has a huge Democratic dropoff in the odd/off-year election cycle) — Jeremy McPike (D) vs. Hal Parrish (R). Parrish has a significant cash advantage and is the Republicans’ best candidate for this district, but he still has to overcome the district’s solid “blue” lean. So…Slight Lean Democratic Retention.
SD 33 (Strong “blue” district which Mark Herring won by 20 points) — Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D) vs. Steve Hollingshead (R). In addition to the district’s “blue” nature, Wexton is the incumbent AND has a huge cash advantage. So…Safe Democratic Retention.
SD 36 (Super-strong “blue” district which Mark Herring won by 26 points) — Del. Scott Surovell (D) vs. Jerry Foreman (R). In addition to the district’s super-strong “blue” nature, Surovell also has a huge advantage in cash-on-hand over Foreman. So…Safe Democratic Retention.
SD 37 (Strong “blue” district which Mark Herring won by 16 points) — Sen. Dave Marsden (D) vs. Dave Bergman (R). Likely-bordering-on-Safe Democratic Retention.
SD 39 (Strong “blue” district which Mark Herring won by 18 points) — Sen. George Barker (D) vs. Joe Murray (R). In addition to the district’s storng “blue” lean, Sen. Barker has a big cash-on-hand advantage as well. So…Safe Democratic Retention.
OVERALL: Democrats need to pick up one seat (net) to get to a 20-20 tie in the State Senate. That would give Dems effective control, since Lt. Gov. Northam (D) would break most ties. Right now, it looks like it’s going to go down to the wire, with the key races being SD-10, SD-21 and SD-29. For the moment, the slight lean towards Dan Gecker in SD-10 would give the Democrats 20 seats, but the fact that Sen. Edwards’ race is a tossup and that the Colgan seat is so touch-and-go means that it’s really going to take things breaking Democrats’ way on November 3 to regain control. Stay tuned…