I’m not a big fan of “Third Way,” for numerous reasons including that it’s a “corporate-funded centrist group” that reportedly has received secret funding from the Koch brothers. Ick. Despite that, I found its new report – The 99 House Districts That Will Determine Dems’ Fate – by David de la Fuente (an alum of NARAL and the DSCC; also on the advisory board of High School Democrats) to be interesting. We’ll get to the part about Virginia in a second, but first, here are some highlights from the report.
- “…all House districts are about equal in population but not in electoral relevance.”
- The report rates districts based on five criteria, giving them one point for each: 1) “districts that Democrats flipped from red to blue in the 2018 cycle and gave Democrats the House majority” (43 districts fit that profile); 2) “districts where the Democratic margin of victory for House in 2018 was in the single-digits” (40 districts); 3) “districts that have a Democratic House incumbent that also voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016” (31 districts); 4) “Democratic House districts located in Presidential swing states” (70 districts); 5) “House districts located in Presidential Battlegrounds states that feature a 2020 Senate race or a state with an incumbent Senator of the party opposite the typical Presidential trends of the state” (39 districts).
- The eight “Five Point Races” are IA01 (Abby Finkenauer), IA03 (Cindy Axne), ME02 (Jared Golden), MI08 (Elissa Slotkin), MI11 (Haley Stevens), MN02 (Angie Craig), VA02 (Elaine Luria), and VA07 (Abigail Spanberger). According to the Third Way report, “Every voter in these districts will make a meaningful choice for President, Senate, and House when they go to the polls in 2020. There is not enough money, volunteer time, and attention that can go into these districts.” Note the two Virginia districts in there; clearly, we have to make these a top priority in 2020.
- There are four “Four Point Races”: AZ01 (Tom O’Halleran), MN07 (Collin Peterson), and NH01 (Chris Pappas), plus AZ02 (Ann Kirkpatrick).
- “There are 20 total districts that received three points—though six different types”: GA06 (Lucy McBath), IL14 (Lauren Underwood), NJ02 (Jeff Van Drew), NJ03 (Andy Kim), NM02 (Xochitl Torres-Small), NY11 (Max Rose), NY19 (Antonio Delgado), NY22 (Anthony Brindisi), OK05 (Kendra Horn), SC01 (Joe Cunningham), and UT04 (Ben McAdams); CO06 (Jason Crow), MN03 (Dean Phillips), and VA10 (Jennifer Wexton); FL26 (Debbie Mucarsel-Powell) and FL27 (Donna Shalala); NV03 (Susie Lee) and PA08 (Matt Cartwright); PA17 (Conor Lamb); IA02 (Dave Loebsack).
- “There are 40 districts that got two points, and they fall into six different categories”: AZ03 (Raul Grijalva), AZ07 (Ruben Gallego), AZ09 (Greg Stanton), CO01 (Diana DeGette), CO02 (Joe Neguse), CO07 (Ed Perlmutter), ME01 (Chellie Pingree), MI05 (Dan Kildee), MI09 (Andy Levin), MI12 (Debbie Dingell), MI13 (Rashida Tlaib), MI14 (Brenda Lawrence), MN04 (Betty McCollum), MN05 (Ilhan Omar), NC01 (G.K. Butterfield), NC04 (David Price), NC12 (Alma Adams), NH02 (Ann Kuster), VA03 (Bobby Scott), VA04 (Donald McEachin), VA08 (Don Beyer), and VA11 (Gerry Connolly); CA10 (Josh Harder), CA21 (TJ Cox), CA25 (Katie Hill), CA39 (Gil Cisneros), CA45 (Katie Porter), CA48 (Harley Rouda), IL06 (Sean Casten), KS03 (Sharice Davids), NJ07 (Tom Malinowski), TX07 (Lizzie Fletcher), TX32 (Colin Allred), and WA08 (Kim Schrier); PA05 (Mary Gay Scanlon), PA06 (Chrissy Houlahan), and PA07 (Susan Wild); NV04 (Steven Horsford); NJ11 (Mikie Sherrill); WI03 (Ron Kind).
- “There are 27 districts that got one point, falling into four categories but with the bulk in the first”: FL05 (Al Lawson), FL07 (Stephanie Murphy), FL09 (Darren Soto), FL10 (Val Demings), FL13 (Charlie Crist), FL14 (Kathy Castor), FL20 (Alcee Hastings), FL21 (Louis Frankel), FL22 (Ted Deutch), FL23 (Debbie Wasserman Schultz), FL24 (Frederica Wilson), NV01 (Dina Titus), OH03 (Joyce Beatty), OH09 (Marcy Kaptur), OH11 (Marcia Fudge), OH13 (Tim Ryan), PA02 (Brendan Boyle), PA03 (Dwight Evans), PA04 (Madeline Dean), PA18 (Mike Doyle), WI02 (Mark Pocan), and WI04 (Gwen Moore); IL17 (Cheri Bustos), NJ05 (Josh Gottheimer), and NY18 (Sean Patrick Maloney); CA49 (Mike Levin); AL07 (Terri Sewell).
- Bottom line: “If you want to see Democrats make progress on anything at the federal level in the next decade, you should pay close attention to the ninety-nine districts where gaining votes will deliver greater victories.”
So what about Virginia? As you can see, every single Democratic-held U.S. House of Representatives seat from Virginia (VA02, VA03, VA04, VA07, VA08, VA10, VA11) – 7 total out of 11 U.S. House seats from Virginia, including every seat currently held by a Democrat – is included in the “99 House Districts That Will Determine Dems’ Fate” list. Here’s a brief recap as to why that’s the case.
- Four of the seven – VA03 (Bobby Scott), VA04 (Donald McEachin), VA08 (Don Beyer), and VA11 (Gerry Connolly) – are “Two Point Races,” in that they are “safe Democratic districts that are in Presidential swing states with Senate elections in 2020.” As the report explains, these Democratic incumbents “couldn’t lose a House general election if they tried in these places, but juicing turnout in these districts actually matters up the ballot for cementing Democratic power in Washington.”
- Two of the seven – VA02 (Elaine Luria), and VA07 (Abigail Spanberger) – are considered “Five Point Races,” in that “all flipped a district from red to blue in a tight race in a district that voted for Trump in 2016,” and that “[e]ach are located in a 2020 Presidential and Senate battleground state.”
- One of the seven – VA10 (Jennifer Wexton) – is a “Three Point Race” in which the district is “represented by [a freshman] who flipped a Clinton district from Republicans in 2018 in a blowout fashion” and is “located in [a swing state].”
I think this is a reasonable way of looking at things; how about you? I’d also note that there are districts not included in the 99 that I think are potentially winnable, such as VA05 and maybe even VA01 – both currently held by Republicans (Denver Riggleman in VA05 and Rob Wittman in VA01). But overall, I agree that it’s going to be crucial to hold VA02 and VA07, while cranking up turnout in the “blue” districts.
Finally, I’d note that the “Third Way” report doesn’t get into gubernatorial, state legislative and other “down-ballot” races, but that these are also VERY important – both in their own right, and also with regard to the 2020 presidential and Congressional races. Here in Virginia, of course, we are on an odd-year cycle for legislative and gubernatorial elections (the next big one, for the entire state legislature, is of course on November 5 – just a few weeks from today), but in other states it will really matter next year…