Virginia House of Delegates Races: Part VI

In the final installment of our initial sweep through competitive Virginia House of Delegates seats, we’ll look at seats 31, 32, 62, and 94:

31st District LEAN DEMOCRAT

District Description: HD31 is situated in the southern edge of the Washington D.C. metro area. It contains a chunk of Prince William County, west of I-95, as well a part of Faquier County. Visually, while the Faquier portion is larger, it only casts about 20% of the votes, meaning the district is dominated by the bluer Prince William precincts.

Race Summary:

Scott Lingamfelter (R) ain’t nothin’ ta mess wit.

Scott Lingamfelter (R) ain’t nothin’ ta mess wit.

Scott Lingamfelter (R) ain’t nothin’ ta mess wit.  

This is the advice we recommend the Virginia Democrats heed. While Lingamfelter, the incumbent since 2004, only won re-election by 1% in 2013, he’s running a strong campaign, compared to his fellow Northern Virginia Republican incumbents.

Lingamfelter isn’t overconfident like some Republicans seem to be; from the start, he’s understood his vulnerability, and has run a campaign accordingly. Still, he’s drawn a high-caliber opponent in Elizabeth Guzman (D). Guzman has slightly outraised him unlike his 2013 opponent, whom he outraised 2:1. Guzman is also running one of the strongest field operations in Northern Virginia.

This district didn’t drastically swing to the left like many Northern Virginia districts have. In fact, Secretary Clinton won this district by a margin slightly less than Obama’s 2012 margin. But Guzman doesn’t need the district to become bluer; it’s blue enough for a Democratic victory with a strong candidate, like Guzman.

If Democrats have a bad night, Lingamfelter could possibly win re-election by <1%. Right now though, we estimate Guzman will unseat Lingamfelter by a minimum of 4%, with a maximum of 7%.

 

32nd District LIKELY DEMOCRAT

District Description: HD32 is a compact district located entirely within Loudoun County. It sits north of Dulles Airport, just between Sterling in the east and Lessburg in the west. It’s three main communities are (moving north): Broadlands, Ashburn, and Lansdowne. The district is fairly blue, though most GOP strength is in the western precincts.

Race Summary:

This is the third most-likely Democratic gain in the House of Delegates races, behind HD-42 & HD-02. Tag Greason (R), the incumbent since 2010, narrowly won re-election in 2013 by 3%, and again in 2015, with lower turnout, by 6%. The following year, Secretary Clinton would go on to carry this district by a colossal 19%, a 13% increase from President Obama’s victory margin in this district in 2012.

It just doesn’t seem that Greason will be able to overcome the lean of his seat, especially against one of the strongest Democratic challengers this year, David Reid (D). Greason is still barely outraising Reid, though the latter has received ample of support from the Virginia Democrats, and has amassed an astounding amount of volunteers helping him run a ferocious field operation.

Of course, if the Virginia Democrats have a bad night, and we mean a really, really bad night, then maybe, just maybe, Greason will be able to win. But seems very unlikely; we don’t think that November 7th will be a “wave” for Democrats, but we do believe they’ll make substantial gains in the House of Delegates, perhaps enough to have a great chance at taking control of it in 2019.

Another way Greason could become more competitive is by increasing his fundraising pace. This, however, doesn’t seem likely, either: in order for Greason to raise enough money to win, he would likely need to raise more than Tim Hugo (R), the Chair of the Republican Caucus, and spend it all on himself (unlike Hugo, who raises so much because he donates to other House of Delegates Republican candidates).

We can’t entirely count Greason out, so we won’t rate this seat as a Safe Democratic pickup. Still, we are quite confident that Reid will win; we estimate that Reid will beat Greason by a minimum of 7%, with the maximum at 12%.

 

62nd District LIKELY REPUBLICAN

District Description: HD62 is located in the southern Richmond metro area, and cuts across a handful of constituencies. Roughly 2/3 of the district is from suburban Chesterfield County; next is Hopewell City, which makes up about 20% of the seat. The remaining balance is a combination of Henrico and Prince George County. The bluest precincts are in northern Chesterfield, and south near Hopewell, with the remaining precincts typically voting red.

Race Summary: It’s gonna take a lot to unseat Riley Ingram (R), the two-decade incumbent, and it doesn’t seem like Sheila Bynum-Coleman (D) has the resources to do it. Bynum-Coleman became the first Democrat to run against Ingram in 18 years in 2015, and now she’s hoping to build off of her loss by crossing her fingers for a wave.

But Bynum-Coleman isn’t going to have a wave to ride on the James River, but she believes in miracles. Bynum-Coleman lost to Ingram by 19% in 2015, but that is still a foundation she can now build on in an election that is projected to be good for Democrats.

Bynum-Coleman is doing better in fundraising than she was in 2015, but still severely lags behind the incumbent’s totals. On August 31st, Ingram had $74K cash on hand, and Bynum-Coleman had $19K.

Her field operation isn’t amazing either, but it’s decent enough to keep the race on the board. But in a district that still voted for Trump, it’s probably not going to be enough to flip.

Ingram is pretty safe right now, but if the Democrats have a tsunami night, and Bynum-Coleman’s campaign strengthens, this seat could flip. Right now, we predict that Ingram will win re-election by at least 10%, with a 15% maximum.

94th District TILT REPUBLICAN

District Description: HD94 is located in the Tidewater region, and is completely within the city of Newport News. Notably, Christopher Newport University sits in the southern part of the district. Republicans do better in most central precincts, touching the coast, while precincts on the periphery, and more inland, lean blue.

Race Summary:

This is the closest “tilt” there is to a toss-up, but at the moment, we believe that David Yancey (R), the incumbent since 2012, will win re-election, albeit by a close margin. While Yancey had a very close call in 2013, only winning re-election by 3%, he did beat the current Democratic nominee, Shelly Simonds (D), by 15% in 2015. Then again, 2015 was more of the typical ‘off-year’ election.

Simonds has many disadvantages she needs to overcome in order to flip this district. The first was a matter of timing: she got in the race late. Zack Wittkamp (D), the original Democratic nominee for this district, dropped out over the Summer – he claimed he couldn’t ‘fit’ running a campaign into his schedule. On August 8th, Simonds once again became the Democratic nominee for the 94th District.

A second challenge for Simonds is the Yancey’s incumbency advantage: he has now represented the 94th District for 5 years, compared to the smaller 2-year incumbency advantage he had in 2013. A third obstacle for the challenger is fundraising; Simonds is at a significant disadvantage: Yancey had $219K cash on hand on August 31st, compared to her $43K.

Simonds does have some factors going in her favor, though. This district sits in the heart of Newport News, a Democratic stronghold. Still, Secretary Clinton only won this district by 5%, which was a slight drop from President Obama’s 7% victory in 2012. Simonds also has name recognition from her past attempt here.

We’ll definitely look at this race again at the end of the month to see how Simonds is doing, and will possibly re-evaluate its rating. Right now though, we estimate Yancey will win re-election by 2% at the minimum, 6% at the maximum.