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Running in "Red America" - District 1 Virginia House of Delegates needs a Democratic candidate - Data Profile

Running in "Red America" - District 1 Virginia House of Delegates needs a Democratic candidate - Data Profile

There is no Democratic candidate contesting District 1 as yet this fall. The first filing deadline has passed, but the party can still place candidates on the ballot through the next deadline of June 13th. Republican Terry Kilgore currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure 16,716 in this uncontested district the last cycle. That is relatively strong support for a race not contested since 2007. Even so, it is important Democrats try and field a candidate in every district.

The Roanoke Times wrote an editorial this morning about Virginia Democrats gathering there this weekend to talk about how to connect with rural Virginians. It is an interesting read. I would like to add my voice to this discussion. The best way for a political party to connect with voters is to ask for their vote. Last cycle, Democrats did not contest 44 out 100 House of Delegates seat in Virginia. Those 44 seats represent roughly 3,520,000 Virginians. As pointed out in the editorial discussing the Clinton campaign:

...(Democrats felt) they could sacrifice rural areas and win by simply running up the margins in cities and suburbs. That works in some states, but not others, depending on their rural/urban mix. “Rural counties and towns don’t cast a lot of votes standing alone, but they do add up,” Trende and Byler wrote. “This was enough to cost Clinton the states of Florida and North Carolina. Had she won those, she would be president.”

As a result of Democrats not running, the message to Virginians living in these largely rural districts is the Democratic Party is not interested in their concerns. This issue is not unique to Virginia either. In the last cycle,  Democrats did not compete in 1,479 state legislative races nationwide. The districts we did not compete in represent more that 117,000,000 people. We often ask how people in "red America" can so consistently vote against their own interests.

They are not voting against their own interests at all, they are simply voting for those showing an interest in them.

With that in mind, let's turn our attention to the district at the tip of the knife.


Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 43,663
Percent Registered = 55%
Total Vote in Last Race = 16,987
Participation Rate = 37%
Total Vote for Republican = 16,716
Total Vote for Democrat = 0
Total Vote Other = 271
Localities = Lee, Scott and Wise Counties with Norton City

District 1 has a total of 42 precincts with 17 in Scott County, 16 in Lee County, 8 in Wise County, and 1 in Norton City. The core of support seems to come out of Lee and Scott Counties while the support is less strong in Wise County. Let us take a look at data and see why.

Here is the share of Active Voters by Locality:

Active Voter registration is pretty equitable across the counties. Of course, Norton City, with only 1 precinct, makes up a small percentage of the Active Voters in this district.

This next chart shows partisan vote share of total active voters per locality.

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The bar graph demonstrates the equitable distribution of active voters once again. That said, it does become clear that the weaker area of support is in Wise County. Any candidate in this district will need to work all 3 counties hard, but the best opportunity to find support might well be in Wise County given the softer support for the Republican found there.

The next bar graph breaks it down precinct by precinct. The initial at the beginning of the precinct name is the locality for the precinct. L = Lee, S = Scott, N = Norton and W = Wise.

Lee County Republican support looks very strong across all precincts. The largest shares of people that did not vote are clearly found in Wise County precincts. Gate City precinct in Scott County is an outlier in that county making it a potential key target as well.

The final scatter plot shows actual vote totals versus the Active Registered Voter total per precinct. The weakest support for the Republican will be the precincts below the red line. The tight range reflects stable support for the Republican. The encouraging aspect of this graphic is that five of the largest six precincts fall below the line. That signals at minimum some measure of softness in support in those precincts.

As noted above, it is of critical importance we try to field candidates in as many districts as possible. If you can run, please do. If you can't please work with the local party to recruit and support potential local candidates. These state legislative races are critical to our Democracy. They are the most local seats with enumerated powers in our Constitution. The power to change our Constitution rests in the state legislatures hands and Republicans only need 24 more seats to control the number of states they need to do just that.

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We need people to step up across Virginia. We are doing well with 79 districts being challenged this cycle. That said, if we want to really start to bridge the rural and urban divide, if we really want to represent all people across the state, heck across the nation, we need to step up and ask for their votes. Let's work together to find a candidate to challenge for this seat at the tip of the knife and across the other 20 districts across the state that needs a Democratic challenger as yet.

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