Next month, the main political event of the year will be the Virginia Governor’s race. In addition, the Commonwealth’s two other statewide offices – Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General – are up. Rounding things out is the House of Delegates; with a hundred seats, the state’s lower chamber is up every two years.
Currently, the GOP has a rather commanding 66/34, thanks in part to the map that they passed in 2011:
Despite this, our friends at Daily Kos Elections found that Secretary Clinton carried a majority, 51, of the chamber’s seats. This, coupled with general backlash against the incumbent President, bolstered Democratic recruitment, and prospects for flipping seats.
Another, perhaps, encouraging sign for Democrats was in the June primaries. Virginia voters has no party affiliation, and thus all primaries are open. The statewide primaries on each side were both competitive, though to somewhat differing extents. Still, roughly 60% of voters chose a Democratic ballot in the primary, to the GOP’s 40%. At the legislative level, Democratic primary candidates combined for more votes than did Republicans in 66 districts:
In November, 60 seats will actually be contested by both major parties – incumbents in the other 40 are either unopposed or only have third party challengers. Given their large majority, the GOP, as one would expect, has considerably more ground to defend. 54 of their 66 seats are contested. By contrast, 28 of the 34 Democratic-held seats will not feature a Republican challenger.
With the election just over a month away, DDHQ will be looking at 25 of the most competitive seats in the chamber. We’ve rated them from Tossup to Likely, for each party:
(Seats 28 and 72 are open)
How much ground do Republicans have to defend? Except for Districts 87 and 93, everything on this board Tossup and leftward is GOP-held. In addition, we consider Districts 2 and 42 (both in northern Virginia), as Safe pickups. If Democrats sweep these races, it would give them a gain of 11 seats. A good haul, but still short of the 17 they would need for an outright majority.
In map form, most of these districts are located in the state’s “Urban Crescent” (right click to enlarge):
Over the next week, DDHQ will be taking a deeper look into the 25 competitive seats – we’ll consider their district fundamentals and voting history, as well as the quality of the candidates and their campaigns.
Finally, thanks to our volunteer Chaz Nuttycombe, who graciously agreed to work with the Desk here. You can follow him at @chawliecharles.