I mostly agree with Virginia political analyst Chaz Nuttycombe‘s latest House of Delegates and State Senate race ratings (see table and maps, below). Note that the latest ratings are (correctly) a lot less optimistic for Democrats than they were back in late January, just before the Northam, Fairfax and Herring scandals hit, and when Chaz was openly wondering whether House Dems could get to 60 seats this November. Post-February-meltdown-month-from-hell, Chaz has scaled back his outlook to a mere +1 for House Dems, as well as +1 for Senate Dems, both of which would result in ties in the respective chambers (50-50 in the House, 20-20 in the Senate) and presumably some sort of power-sharing arrangement(s).
Of course, it’s quite possible that by the fall, things will change – for better or worse – for Virginia Dems. I’m also not 100% confident that the Supreme Court will uphold new, racially “unpacked” district lines, although I’d say it’s likely that even this godawful SCOTUS will not reverse the lower court. We’ll see. If SCOTUS *does* reverse the new maps, then the House outlook will be worse for Dems. If not, then I think we’re looking at the key races being as follows:
- Dems need to hold all our “Likely D” and “Lean D” incumbents, as well as the “Tilt D” HD50 (Delegate Lee Carter) and HD51 (Delegate Hala Ayala);
- Dems need to hold the “Toss-Up” House seat, HD10 (Delegate Wendy Gooditis), which is going to be a war;
- It would really help if Dems could hold HD73 (the seat vacated by Democratic Del. Debra Rodman, who is running for State Senate) and HD85 (the seat vacated by Democratic Del. Cheryl Turpin, who is also running for State Senate), or at least not lose both of them;
- Dems really could use pick-ups one or more of the “Likely D” and “Lean D” seats currently held by Republicans: HD76 (incumbent Republican Del. Chris Jones), HD94 (incumbent Republican Del. David Yancey, and HD91 (open seat);
- Dems really could use the pick-up in HD40 (incumbent Republican Del. Tim Hugo vs. Dem challenger Dan Helmer);
- It would be great if Dems could pick up a few of the “Tilt R” category races (e.g., HD27, HD28, HD66, HD83).
- On the Senate side, Dems should hold all our incumbents easily; the question is whether we can pick up HD13 (the seat being vacated by current Sen. Dick Black) – which we absolutely should win with John Bell – and then how many of the “Toss-Up” (SD7, SD10, SD12) seats we can also pick up (I’m thinking we’ve got a good shot in all three of those, but of course it depends on how strong our challenger is in each). As an added bonus, winning SD8, SD11 and/or SD17 would be awesome, kicking election night into “party hearty!” territory. Right now, I’d actually put SD11 in “Tilt R” or even “Toss-Up,” given incumbent Sen. Amanda Chase (far-right R)’s ongoing meltdown. Stay tuned…
Bottom line: If everything goes the Dems’ way on November 5, it still could be a great night, with Dems potentially picking up four or more seats in the House of Delegates and potentially four or more seats in the State Senate. If not…well, then, it could be a long night, but let’s hope that’s not the case.