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Running in "Red America" - Democrats need a standard bearer in District 76 Virginia House of Delegates race

Running in "Red America" - Democrats need a standard bearer in District 76 Virginia House of Delegates race

Democrats have no candidate contesting District 76 as yet this fall. The first filing deadline has passed, but the party can still place candidates on the ballot "by acclamation" through the next deadline of June 13th. Republican Chris Jones currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure 6,044 votes in this uncontested district the last cycle. Jones has been in the post since his 1997 general election victory. Democrats offered up only one challenge to his incumbency since then.

A low turnout like this typically bodes well for the challenging party. That said, in this particular seat, the gubernatorial race looms large. In gubernatorial years Republicans get 20,000 votes pretty reliably. Most seats do not swing so dramatically with no competition like this.

DISTRICT 76 FAST FACTS

Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 55,121
Percent Registered = 65%
Total Vote in Last Race = 6,523
Participation Rate = 13%
Total Vote for Republican = 6,044
Total Vote for Democrat = 0
Total Vote Other = 479
Localities = Chesapeake and Suffolk Cities

District 76 has a total of 26 precincts with 16 in Suffolk City and 10 in Chesapeake City. A low turnout like in this uncontested race typically bodes well for the challenging party. That said, in this particular seat, the gubernatorial race looms large. In gubernatorial years Republicans get 20,000 votes pretty reliably. Most seats do not swing so dramatically AND stably with no competition.

Let's take a look at what happened in the last race.

Here is the share of Active Voters by Locality:

The pie chart makes clear that most votes are found in Suffolk, but Chesapeake demands attention as well. We will need to dig deeper to see where some real opportunity might lay.

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

This graphic reveals that both localities deserve serious attention. Neither is particularly strong for the Republican.

The next bar graph breaks down partisan vote by precinct. The initial at the beginning of the precinct name is the locality for the precinct. C = Chesapeake City and S = Suffolk City

This bar graph highlights precincts like Deep Creek, Driver, and John T West ought to be targeted to work hard and long. Honestly, though, all of these precincts present decent targets.

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 narrow range is a sign of an organized campaign at work, which is odd for such a low participation rate. 


As noted above this district is anomalous in the size of stability of the swing in Republican votes from a gubernatorial year to an off gubernatorial year. The data shows the Republican keeps his core connected and just relies on down ballot during gubernatorial years. A well organized and inspired challenge may just catch this guy off guard, even though this will be a tough race for sure.

Here are more reasons why we should field a full slate of candidates.

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. It does not matter your view on the issues, if a party does not run candidates in your district, it is less likely you will support that party consistently. If Democrats do not ask for these votes, the message to Virginians living in these mostly 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 interests.

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

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. These state legislative races are vital 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.

We need people to step up across Virginia. We are doing well contesting 82 of 100 districts this cycle. That said, if we want to start to bridge the rural and urban divide, if we 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 and across the other 17 districts across the state that needs a Democratic challenger as yet. Let's run a Full Slate TM.

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