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Five NOVA Precincts to Watch on Election Night

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Cross posted from Dump Comstock:

Five NOVA Precincts to Watch on Election Night

Last November, Barbara Comstock managed to win reelection in her heavily gerrymandered congressional district. Retaking this seat is key to taking back control of the House. So let’s take a look at how she managed to do it.

  • Comstock won by 23,000 votes out of 400,000 votes cast (6%)
  • Clinton won this district by 40,000 votes (10%)
  • Comstock over-performed Clinton by 30,000 votes in Loudoun County
  • Comstock over-performed Clinton by 24,000 votes in Fairfax County

Comstock basically tied her opponent in Loudoun County and she actually won Fairfax County by 3,000 votes.

County Comstock Bennett
Frederick County 27,900 11,677
Manassas Park City 2,036 3,046
Manassas City 6,718 8,045
Clarke County 4,988 2,895
Fairfax County 55,268 52,976
Loudoun County 89,358 89,523
Prince William County 19,026 14,580
Winchester City 5,497 4,970

Fairfax is an interesting case study since in addition to the June primary for governor this year, there was also a special election for the Fairfax County school board. That special election was scheduled at the end of August in a futile attempt to suppress Democratic turnout.

The key to defeating Comstock next November will be to win some of these precincts, or at least minimize the losses. We’ll take a closer look at four precincts where both Comstock and Clinton won in 2016. We’ll also add a fifth precinct that both Trump and Comstock carried, to see how a typical Trump precinct has performed since then.

Precinct 2016 Presidential 2016 Congressional 2017 Primary 2017 Special
Seneca Clinton 54% Comstock 58% Dems 61% Tie
Southrun Clinton 54% Comstock 58% Dems 56% Dems 51%
Silverbrook Clinton 55% Comstock 57% Dems 61% GOP 51%
Hickory Clinton 56% Comstock 57% Dems 61% GOP 53%
Clifton Trump 57% Comstock 65% Tie GOP 56%

Note that both parties had a same day primary for governor this year and registered voters could vote in either primary (but only one.) We’re defining the winner of the primary to be the party that turned out the most voters.

The Dems did extremely well in the June primary and even managed to tie in the heavy Republican precinct of Clifton which Trump had won with 57% of the vote. The Dems also had a solid showing in the school board vote, and in one case, even won the precinct outright.

The bigger story here, however, was the Democratic turnout. Turnout in both races continues to mirror the overall strong Democratic turnout that we’ve seen nationally. We are measuring turnout here as the number of votes by party compared to the congressional totals in 2016.

June Primary Turnout vs. 2016 Congressional

Precinct GOP Turnout % Dem Turnout %
Seneca 19 41
Southrun 28 48
Silverbrook 24 48
Hickory 19 40
Clifton 24 44

Democratic turnout was far superior to the GOP levels in these precincts. Either GOP voters stayed home (their primary wasn’t considered competitive) or they decided to vote for Northam in the Democratic primary. Either way, that’s not great news for Gillespie.

Now let’s take a look at these same precincts for the special election for Fairfax school board.

August Special Election Turnout vs. 2016 Congressional

Precinct GOP Turnout % Dem Turnout %
Seneca 12 16
Southrun 19 28
Silverbrook 15 19
Hickory 16 20
Clifton 16 24

Again, the Dems had superior turnout in every one of these precincts. It wasn’t just these isolated precincts either. These five are representative of the results in the rest of the Fairfax precincts. Democratic turnout is generally lower in off cycle elections, but that hasn’t been the case so far in VA-10.

The Virginia GOP ought to be particularly concerned about Clifton. That is deep red Trump territory and the Dems almost doubled GOP turnout in the June primary. Things didn’t get much better for them in the head to head school board match up later on in August.

If there really is a “blue wave” coming, then we should see Democrats making big gains in these precincts where Comstock over-performed Trump. If the Dems keep it close in Clifton, then we’re looking at a potential wipeout, not just in tonight’s race, but also next year against Comstock.