Home 2018 Elections Virginia Absentee Ballot Numbers As of 10/19 Continue to Run FAR Ahead...

Virginia Absentee Ballot Numbers As of 10/19 Continue to Run FAR Ahead of 2017, Particularly in VA-10 and VA-07

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posted last Saturday on absentee voting ballots requested/submitted as of October 12. Now, the Virginia State Board of Elections website has numbers available through October 19. Here are a few key points and graphics.

As of October 19, there were 195,679 total absentee applications, with 95,616 returned (53,397 in person and 42,164 by mail). These total absentee applications are up a whopping 60,873, or 45%, from last Saturday’s numbers (134,806 total absentee applications then), with ballots returned nearly doubled (up 98%!) from the 48,281 returned as of October 12. Wow.

Now, see below for a graph of Virginia absentee ballots by Congressional District (in descending order) as of October 19.

  • As was the case last week, the highest number of absentee voting ballots requested/submitted to date (31,250) is in VA-10, which of course is one of the most hotly contested House races in the country, between incumbent Barbara “Trumpstock” (R) and Democratic nominee Jennifer Wexton. Within VA-10, Loudoun County (Jennifer Wexton’s base; also fairly “blue”) accounts for 40% of the absentees so far; “blue” Fairfax County for 38%; and “blue” Prince William County for 10% — 88% combined from those three jurisdictions.
  • Also as was the case last week, the second highest number of absentee voting ballots requested/submitted (29,919) so far is in VA-08, a HEAVILY “blue” district (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax) that doesn’t even have a competitive House race, as Rep. Don Beyer (D) should romp. So to me, this is an excellent measure of “base” Democratic enthusiasm. Based on the numbers so far for VA-08, that “base” Democratic enthusiasm appears to be very high so far! Also, of course, Democratic committees in VA-08 are very strong, so there’s that as well.
  • Adding further evidence to that theory, also the same as last week, check out the third-highest number of absentee voting ballots requested/submitted so far (26,616), which is in strongly “blue” VA-11 (Fairfax, Prince William), and which also does not have a competitive House race, as Rep. Gerry Connolly should cruise to an easy, overwhelming victory on November 6. Again, this seems to be a strong sign of high “base” Democratic enthusiasm, plus a very strong Democratic committee.
  • VA-07 absentee ballots (18,264) pulled slightly ahead of VA-01 (18,212); it kind of surprises me these districts are so close, given that VA-07 is a hotly contested “purple” district currently held by far-right Republican Dave Brat, and with a strong Democratic challenger in Abigail Spanberger. Within VA-07, “blue” Henrico County accounts for 34% of the absentees; “purple” Chesterfield County for 31%; “red” Spotsylvania County for 12%; “red” Culpeper County for 5%; “red” Goochland County for 4%; “red” Louisa County for 4%; and “red” Orange County for 4%. So basically, it comes down to whether “blue” Henrico outweighs the “red” rural areas of the district, and how “purple” Chesterfield ends up leaning…
  • VA-02 is another very competitive, “purple” district, with Rep. Scott “Petitiongate” Taylor up against former Navy Commander Elaine Luria. The number of absentees in VA-02 (14,506) is far lower than in the VA-10 Comstock vs. Wexton slugfest, which is kind of puzzling to me, especially given that the current NY Times poll has VA-02 as a neck-and-neck race. Also note that out of those 14,506 absentees, about 60% are coming from Virginia Beach, which went 52%-47% for Ralph Northam last year. Another 6% are coming from Norfolk City, which went nearly 3:1 for Northam last year; and about 6% coming from Accomack County, which went 54%-46% for Ed Gillespie last year.  Based on these numbers plus the NY Times poll, VA-02 looks very close right now.
  • Same thing, to a lesser extent, in VA-05, yet another “purple” district with a potentially competitive race (note: the NY Times poll right now has this race neck and neck) between Democrat Leslie Cockburn and Republican Denver Riggleman.  By the way, if you combine Cville and Albemarle, we’re talking about 37% of all the VA-05 absentees coming from strongly “blue” parts of the district.
  • VA-04 is strongly Democratic and not at all competitive (Rep. Donald McEachin will cruise to an easy reelection), and those absentee numbers are kind of “meh.” Even more “meh” is VA-03, also strongly Democratic and heavily African American; would feel better if those absentee numbers were higher there.
  • Finally, encouraging news: absentee numbers are remaining very low in deep, deep-red VA-09, one of the “Trumpiest” CDs in the country, and not particularly strong in deep-red VA-06 either.

Next, check out the following graph of percent changes in absentee ballots by CD from 10/12 to 10/19. Note that every CD except for VA-02 (which only increased 38% week-over-week) increased by more than 40%, with the biggest increases in blue VA-11 (+54%) and also in red VA-09 (+52%) – albeit from a very low base.

Finally, the next graph shows current absentee ballot numbers (as of 10/19/18) compared to FINAL absentee ballot totals in 2017. As you can see, we’re already far ahead of the pace from 2017, with VA-10 more than four times its 2017 FINAL numbers; VA-07 at 373% of its 2017 FINAL numbers; VA-05 at 348% of its 2017 FINAL numbers; VA-06 at 334% of its 2017 FINAL numbers; and VA-11 at 328% of its 2017 FINAL numbers. Overall, Virginia has seen more than triple the absentee ballots as of 10/19/18 as we saw in 2017 in terms of FINAL numbers. If there’s any correlation between absentee requests and final vote totals, it looks like we’re going to far surpass 2017. But we’ll see…