See below for Elections Daily’s “inaugural Virginia Senate rankings.” The person who did these, Joe Szymanski, is a conservative Republican, so if he thinks Dems start off with a 20-16 lead (plus 4 tossups) in the State Senate, that’s not too bad at all. If anything, actually, Szymanski was pretty generous with SD27 and SD04 (see analysis, below). Also note that Democrats start off with a 22-18 margin in the State Senate, following the special election victory a few weeks ago by Democrat Aaron Rouse. However, also note that the 2023 races will be run under completely new/redrawn districts due to post-2020-Census redistricting. So keep in mind that all districts referenced below are NEW districts, not comparable to current ones.
With that, the four tossup districts are:
- SD17 (Democrat Clint Jenkins vs. Republican Emily Brewer or Hermie Sandler) – Suffolk City, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton, Brunswick, Greensville, Franklin City, Dinwiddie (partial), Emporia City; went for Ralph Northam by 8 points in 2017, but then went for Glenn Youngkin by 5 points in 2021. Democrats absolutely need to win this district to keep their majority!
- SD24 (Democrat Monty Mason vs Republican Danny Diggs) – Newport News, York, Williamsburg, Poquoson, James City County (partial); went for Ralph Northam by 6.7 points in 2017, then for Glenn Youngkin by 3.4 points in 2021. This is an absolutely key race for State Senate control this November!
- SD27 (Democrat Ben Litchfield or Luke Radley Wright vs. Republican Matt Strickland or Tara Durant) – Stafford (partial), Spotsylvania (partial), Fredericksburg; went for Ed Gillespie by 2.5 points in 2017, went for Glenn Youngkin by 5.5 points in 2021. If anything, I’d say Elections Daily is being very generous putting this district in the tossup category, as it definitely seems to lean Republican based on 2017 and 2021 election results.
- SD31 (Democrat Russet Perry or Zach Cummings vs. Republican Juan Pablo Segura) – Loudoun (partial) and Fauquier (partial); went for Ralph Northam by 8.5 points in 2017 and then for Glenn Youngkin by 0.6 points in 2021. This is a crucial opportunity for Democrats, especially given how right wingnut Segura appears to be and also the fact that incumbent Jill Vogel (R) is retiring, meaning that this will be a true open seat.
Another key district is “Leans Democratic” SD16 (Republican Siobhan Dunnavant vs. Democrat Schuyler VanValkenburg), which is located entirely within Henrico County, and which went for Ralph Northam by 8.3 points in 2017 and for Terry McAuliffe by 6.3 points in 2021. This one’s really crucial for Democrats to win. As for “Leans Republican” SD04 (Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Montgomery County and Salem City), I’d say that one is if anything Likely Republican, given that it went for Ed Gillespie by 1.8 points in 2017 and for Glenn Youngkin by 10.2 points in 2021. Also note that Sen. John Edwards (D) is most likely retiring, leaving this seat likely to go to Sen. Dave Suetterlein (R).
Finally, two more districts to keep an eye one: First, Dems need to lock down “Likely Democratic” SD30 (Prince William, Manassas, Manassas Park) for Democrat Danica Roem, but given that Terry McAuliffe won it by 3.7 points in 2021 and Ralph Northam won it by 12 points in 2017, plus the fact that Roem is a very strong candidate, that’s definitely doable. Second, “Likely Republican” SD20 unfortunately isn’t looking good at all for Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D), given that the district (Virginia Beach, Accomack, Norfolk, Northampton) was won by Youngkin by 14.9 points in 2021 and by Ed Gillespie by 2.1 points in 2017.