I posted last Saturday on absentee voting ballots requested/submitted as of October 19. Now, the Virginia State Board of Elections website has numbers available through October 26. Here are a few key points and graphics.
As of October 26, there were 256,735 total absentee applications, with 162,646 returned (91,799 in person and 70,766 by mail). These total absentee applications are up a whopping 61,056, or 31%, from last Saturday’s numbers (195,679 total absentee applications then), with ballots returned nearly doubled (up 70%) from the 95,616 returned as of October 19. Impressive.
Now, see below for a graph of Virginia absentee ballots by Congressional District (in descending order) as of October 26.
- The highest number of absentee voting ballots requested/submitted to date (40,109) is in deep-“blue” VA-08 (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax), a district that doesn’t even have a competitive House race, as Rep. Don Beyer (D) will romp on 11/6. 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.
- VA-08 just edges out VA-10 (39,931), which 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 38% of the absentees so far; “blue” Fairfax County for 39%; and “blue” Prince William County for 11% — 88% combined from those three jurisdictions.
- Adding further evidence to the “Democratic enthusiasm” theory, check out the third-highest number of absentee voting ballots requested/submitted so far (34,876), which is in strongly “blue” VA-11 (Fairfax, Prince William), and which also does not have a competitive House race, as Rep. Gerry Connolly will cruise to an easy, overwhelming victory on November 6. Again, this seems to be a strong sign of high “base” Democratic enthusiasm, plus very strong Democratic committees.
- VA-01 absentee ballots (24,111) pulled slightly ahead of VA-07 absentee ballots (23,433) this week. That kind of surprises me, 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 (23,433 absentee ballots), “blue” Henrico County accounts for 33% of the absentees; “purple” Chesterfield County for 31%; “red” Spotsylvania County for 13%; “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…
- Next is VA-05 (19,677 absentee ballots), yet another “purple” district with a competitive race between Democrat Leslie Cockburn and Republican Denver Riggleman (note: the NY Times poll a few days ago had Cockburn up a statistically insignificant 1 point). By the way, if you combine Cville and Albemarle, we’re talking about 35% of all the VA-05 absentees coming from strongly “blue” parts of the district.
- 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 (18,986) is fairly close to VA-05 but far lower than in the VA-10 Comstock vs. Wexton slugfest, which is kind of puzzling to me, especially given that the recent NY Times poll had Taylor up just 3 points (within the margin of error) over Luria. Also note that out of those 18,986 absentees, about 61% 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 5% 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.
- 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.
- Absentee numbers remain relatively low in deep, deep-red VA-09, one of the “Trumpiest” CDs in the country, and also in deep-red VA-06 (although both are higher than VA-03).
Next, check out the following graph of percent changes in absentee ballots by CD from 10/19 to 10/26. Note that every CD increased by 28% or more, with the biggest increases in ruby-red VA-09 (+38%, albeit from a very low base) and deep-blue VA-08 (+34%).
Finally, the next graph shows current absentee ballot numbers (as of 10/26/18) 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 at 534% of its 2017 FINAL numbers; VA-07 at 479% of its 2017 FINAL numbers; VA-05 at 457% of its 2017 FINAL numbers; VA-06 at 435% of its 2017 FINAL numbers; and VA-11 at 430% of its 2017 FINAL numbers. Overall, Virginia has seen 445% the absentee ballots as of 10/26/18 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…could possibly be shifting in WHEN people vote more than anything else.