Leading up to Election Day/Election Week, we’ve been taking a closer look at a few key and/or interesting races in Virginia, and what to look out for as election results start coming in. We started yesterday with VA02 and VA07, continued this morning with VA05, and now move to VA01 in eastern and northern Virginia, which is made up of all or parts of Prince William County (21.6% of the district), Stafford County (17.5%), Hanover County (14.6%), James City County (8.3%), Gloucester County (5.1%), Spotsylvania County (4.2%), Caroline County (3.2%), Fredericksburg (3.2%), King George County (3.1%), New Kent County (3.0%), Westmoreland County (2.3%), King William County (2.3%), Fauquier County (1.9%), Northumberland County (1.8%), Lancaster County (1.6%), Middlesex County (1.5%), Essex County (1.4%), Mathews County (1.3%), Richmond County (1.0%) and King & Queen County (0.9%).
This is a district that went by 15 points (55%-40%) for Trump in 2016, then went by 9-12 points for Republicans in the 2017 Virginia statewide races, then went by two points (50%-48%) for Republican Corey Stewart over Tim Kaine in 2018. So yes, it’s quite red! Also in 2018, Republican Rep. Rob Wittman defeated Democrat Vangie Williams in VA01 by a 10.5-point (55.2%-44.7%) margin, with a total of 332,127 votes cast (183,250 for Wittman and 148,464 for Williams).
What should we be looking for in VA01 in this election? Here are a few things:
- There’s have been no public polls of VA01 this cycle. The FiveThirtyEight.com Deluxe model gives Wittman a 93% chance of winning this race, while The Economist model gives Wittman a 91% chance, with a predicted outcome of Wittman 54%-Rashid 46%. Bottom line: this election is a long shot for Rashid, and if he wins – or even comes really close – it probably means we’re talking about a “blue wave” or even “blue tsunami” nationally.
- Will Sen. Mark Warner perform similarly to Tim Kaine (48%-50%) in 2018 or a bit better? If better, how much better? And how much might that help Rashid? Also, how about Joe Biden? Can he come (much) closer in this district that Trump won by a whopping 15 points in 2018, maybe get down into mid-single digits? If so, that certainly should help “down-ballot” Democrats like Qasim Rashid.
- VA01 turnout in 2018 was 332k, and in 2016, turnout was 385k. So…what will overall VA01 turnout look like this time around? Also, where will that turnout come from?
- In 2018, Democrat Vangie Williams racked up large margins in Prince William County (about 9.5k votes) and Fredericksburg (over 3k votes), while running about even in Spotsylvania County and Caroline County, and pretty close in Stafford County (Wittman got 52.1% there)…where it be great to close the gap or win this time around. Wittman romped in most of the rest of the district, particularly places like Gloucester County (where he got 69%), Mathews County (69%), New Kent County (68%), King William County (67%), Fauquier County (66%), Hanover County (66%), etc. So basically, to pull off a huge upset here, Rashid would have to rack up much greater than the 12.5k Williams combined margin in Prince William County and Fredericksburg, win Stafford County, and hold down Wittman’s margins significantly in all of those red counties. It’s a long shot, no doubt, but Rashid has run a great campaign – led by rising star campaign manager Ayodele Okeowo and excellent Comms Director Grace Hagerty – while Wittman has basically just tried to smear Rashid, using anti-Muslim tropes and other disgusting attack lines. If any Democrat in a solidly “red” district *deserves* to win more than Rashid, it’s hard to think of who that might be.
- It will be interesting to see what turnout in the “red” parts of VA01 looks like, perhaps as an indication of whether Trump supporters are turning out in droves, staying home, or what. Also, we’ll see if there’s any ticket splitting…perhaps some Trump/Rashid voters or Biden/Wittman voters? It’s hard for me to imagine many of the latter, but in a close race, even a bit of ticket splitting could make a difference. Also note that Rashid has really worked to appeal to everyone – Democrats, Independents and Republicans – while Wittman has appealed only to his right-wing “base.” (e.g., see Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA01)’s Camp Continues to Target Qasim Rashid with “dangerously false claims—including that I ’embrace ISIS & Hamas.’”; After One of His Signs Is *Shot* 40 Times, VA01 Dem Qasim Rashid Calls for “Win[ning] with Justice and Compassion & Defeat[ing] Hate”; Flag-Waving, Horn-Honking Trump Supporters Crash Qasim Rashid for Congress Event. What Happened Next Will Surprise and Inspire You.; etc.) We’ll see if any of that makes a difference in the election results. At the minimum, it would be great to see Rashid cut Wittman’s 2018 margin (10.5 points) in half or whatever.
- Finally, note that we’ll first be getting results from election day voting, then after 11 pm, “that’s when you start to see the localities reporting results for all the early voting, absentee voting.” So if early voting skews Democratic, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Freitas with an early-evening “lead” that disappears once the early/absentee votes are tabulated. Keep that in mind not just in VA01, but throughout Virginia on Tuesday night!