Home 2018 Elections What a 20-Point Swing From Trump Could Mean in Virginia’s 2018 Congressional...

What a 20-Point Swing From Trump Could Mean in Virginia’s 2018 Congressional Elections


Last night in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, regardless of who ends up winning or losing (and right now, Democrat Conor Lamb holds a slim lead with 100% of precincts reporting), this election is “an ominous sign for Republicans in a district that Donald J. Trump won by nearly 20 percentage points.”

How ominous? According to Vox, “When you take a step back and look at the 2018 race for the House, you realize: There are more than 110 Republican-held House districts that Trump won by less than he won in the district where the Republican House candidate just effectively tied with the Democrat.”

So what happens here in Virginia this November if there’s a 20-point swing away from Trump? Let’s go to the State Board of Elections 2016 results and look at this district by district.

VA-01: Trump won this district by just over 12 points (53.22%-40.97%), which of course is 8 points fewer than 20. Which means that Rep. Rob Wittman (R) should be a weeeeee bit nervous right about now.

VA-02: Trump squeaked out a win in this district by about 3.5 points (48.5%-45.0%), which is of course wayyyyy fewer points (16.5 fewer to be exact) than 20. Rep. Scott Taylor (R)’s days (mis)representing this district could very well be done in November. Let’s hope so, because Taylor is terrible.

VA-05: Trump won this district by 11 points (53.1%-42.1%), which yet AGAIN is far lower than 20 points. And yet AGAIN, the Republican currently (mis)representing the district – in this case Rep. Tom Garrett – could be in serious trouble come November.

VA-06: OK, now this is a super-red district that Trump won by nearly 25 points (59.3%-34.7%), and that IS greater than 20 points. So is this district unwinnable for Democrats? Mmmmmmayyyybe? It really depends who Republicans nominate, because if they’re stupid enough to go with extremist nutjob Cynthia Dunbar, who almost makes Roy Moore look sane, they could be in trouble even in this deep, deep-red district. We’ll see.

VA-07: Trump won this district by about 6.5 points (50.2%-43.7%), which puts it between VA-02 and VA-05 on the Democratic competitiveness scale. Even better news for Democrats here is that Rep. Dave Brat (R), in addition to being bat**** crazy, is also unpopular, including among the women “up in his grill” of course, but also among Cantor Republicans from what I’ve heard. In sum, Brat is not just the “wurst,” he also could be gone in November. Let’s do it!

VA-09: Trump won this district by 41 points (68.4%-27.2%) in 2016, so even though I’d love to see climate-science-denying freakazoid Rep. Morgan Griffith (R) gone, last I checked 41 points was a LOT greater than 20 points.

VA-10: Trump LOST this district in 2016 by 10 points (42%-52%) to Hillary Clinton, but Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) held on because she out-performed Trump by about 16 points (Comstock won by 6 point). The problem for Comstock, in addition to her pathetic record of voting in lockstep with Trump, is that if there’s a 20-point swing this November, or even a 10-point swing, she’s in deep, deep trouble. If I were Comstock’s staffers, I would be seriously polishing up my resume, networking and stuff like that. LOL

In sum, if there’s a 20-point swing away from Trump this November, Democrats are poised for an amazing night here in Virginia, with possible pickups (in descending order of likelihood, not considering candidate strength) in VA-10, VA-02, VA-07, VA-05, VA-01 and possibly even VA-06. Of course, it’s possible there won’t be a 20-point swing away from Trump in November, maybe only a 10-point or 5-point swing or whatever, but even so that would make for a potentially strong Democratic night.

Of course, Democrats need to be ready to take advantage of these scenarios, by first and foremost nominating the strongest possible candidate in each CD, then by running as strong a campaign as possible, and of course by being united around our nominees. If we do all those things, we set ourselves up to take advantage of however large a “swing” we see this coming November. Put ourselves in position to take advantage of potentially VERY positive circumstances, in other words…

  • DCStrangler

    What this means is that the DNC and far left activists need to take a very hard look at themselves and realize they have a choice to make; either continue to hew to the left and select unelectable candidates or be pragmatic and select candidates that may not check all the “progressive” boxes but can win in a general election. I hope it’s the latter, but I have my doubts. It’s all they know how to do.

    • C Pruett

      Who are the far left unelectable candidates we’ve been running in Virginia?

      • There aren’t any; this is just a right-wing talking point with zero basis in reality.

        • DCStrangler

          The 20 point swing in PA was due to the fact that Lamb was just the right sort of Democrat who could win that district. If VA Democrats put up candidates whose progressive bona fides you would gush over, instead of more moderate Democrats, they are going to get rolled into a ditch. The thing that is guaranteed to stop a Blue Wave will be the far-left’s inability to tolerate a compromise.

          • C Pruett

            I’m still trying to get a handle on what it is that we are afraid Dems are going to say that will make them unelectable pariahs in districts they could otherwise win.

  • Roger Miller

    You ignored an important variable: incumbency. No incumbent in PA-18. Every CD you claim we’re competitive here in VA has an established Republican. Unless any of them chose to retire because of last night, they will still have the mother’s milk of Republican politics, gobs of money. Sorry to temper your enthusiasm.

    • Fair point, although I’d argue that incumbency can have both advantages and disadvantages. In Brat’s case, for instance, I think he’s made a lot of enemies and not many friends. In Garrett’s case, we’ll see… In Comstock’s case, her voting record with Trump is NOT going to help her – and probably will hurt her a lot – in November. etc.

    • notjohnsmosby

      No elected person to a 2-year position at any level is established until they’ve won re-election at least once and usually a couple of times. Taylor, Bratt and Garrett still need to cut their teeth with a competitive re-election. Are they stronger than if they were competing for open seats? Absolutely, but it’s not like they’ve had their seats for a decade.

      Comstock is a strange case in that she has won two competitive races, but is so reclusive that no one in the district really knows her.

  • Morris Meyer

    From Jon Favreau @jonfavs

    Conor Lamb campaigned:

    1. For universal health care
    2. Against Trump’s tax cut
    3. For expanded background checks
    4. For stronger unions
    5. Against cuts to Social Security
    6. For a woman’s right to choose
    7. For medical marijuana

    “Conservative Democrat.” Ok. Cool.

    • Yep; by basically ANY standard, Lamb is a strong progressive (other than on guns and fracking).

      • Anthony Shifflett

        Conor is where I am on guns. Not entirely, but largely. Slightly to the right of me.

        But he is solid otherwise. More candidates THAT FIT THEIR DISTRICT.

        Keep up the good work here. I follow you on Twitter.

        • C Pruett

          Is there an adverse history of Dem candidates being beaten because they don’t fit their district? I keep hearing this without knowing what the counterexample is.

  • RobertColgan

    I’n not so sure.. . . .
    I don’t think that this can be postulated as predictive of future trends…even though it was a major shift away from the 2016 outcome.
    That PA 18, before redistricting altered it, was Democratic 2 to 1…..then given more of a Republican slant after re-districting.
    (R)Tim Murphy majorly pissed off a lot of the constituency by his malfeasance… much of the anger in this latest vote was against him more than Trump.

    Just saying.
    And I do hope that the anger against the Republican incumbents continues to grow……..but I fervently wish that we ALTER COMPLETELY the way we do political selection:
    gender equality in ALL congresses, State and Federal.
    Term limits in ALL congresses, State and Federal.
    ALL campaign money in elections from public funding…a set amount for qualified candidates and no more. Spend it wisely.
    Citizen oversight of ALL congressional legislation before it gets voted into law.

  • C Pruett

    Thanks for the point about Trump’s low margin in Va 02. I’ve seen people insist Northam only performed well there because he’ local and ‘conservative’. (And the jury’s still out on how RN governs but he certainly didn’t RUN as a conservative.)

  • Anthony Shifflett

    I am VA-10. I was surprised that Comstock won with Trump at the top of the ticket. But she did. Too many didn’t pay attention – now they are.

    Watching this blog closely. No idea who to vote for in terms of the primary. I wonder what my Delegate Danica Roem thinks, but her won’t be a lock for me. Will pay attention to who’s running; positions, opposition to Trump, and best ideas for the district.

    But I want to win. Will vote for the candidate I think is the best policy fit for the district.