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Running in "Red America" - District 97 Virginia House of Delegates needs a Democratic challenger!

Running in "Red America" - District 97 Virginia House of Delegates needs a Democratic challenger!

Democrats have no candidate contesting District 97 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 Peace currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure 15,144 votes in this race contested by a member of the Green Party who drew 4,076 votes in the last cycle. No Democratic candidate has run for this seat since the 2006 special election when Chris Peace first won this district in a narrow victory.

DISTRICT 97 FAST FACTS

Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 55,015
Percent Registered = 65%
Total Vote in Last Race = 19,283
Participation Rate = 35%
Total Vote for Republican = 15,144
Total Vote for Democrat = 0
Total Vote for Green = 4,076
Total Vote Other = 63
Localities = Hanover, King William and New Kent Counties

District 97 has a total of 31 precincts with 17 in Hanover County, 10 in New Kent County, and 4 in King William County. Being a gubernatorial year, we can expect the Republican vote total to come in around 20,000 votes in this district. That said, the last regular election Democrats challenged for this seat at all was 2001, and that race was very close with only a 1,500 vote margin in a gubernatorial year. So, while it seems Republicans solidly control this district, maybe there is an opportunity here we have not explored just because we aren't running here.

If a Green Party candidate can pull down 20% of the vote a supported and organized Democratic candidate ought to be able to readily beat that and get around 50% of the vote. If they pull that off they win!

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 of the votes are in Hanover County. It is obvious that is where most of the focus is for any campaign. That said, there are other parts of the district that may be worth targeting as well, let's dig deeper.

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

This graphic reveals that not only are the most voters are in Hanover County, but that in the Republican Vote is the weakest share of any locality in the district. Only 24% of the active registered voters in Hanover County went for the Republican while they received 28% and 33% support in the other two counties. It bodes well when the area with the most voters yields the smallest overall share of support for your opponent.

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. H = Hanover, KW = King William, and NK = New Kent Counties.

It is not surprising that all of the best targets are in Hanover County. Village, Cold Harbor, Battlefield and Clay precincts all stand out to me as sound targets. Frankly, 90% of the precincts in Hanover and King William Counties make ideal areas to work. That is not to say any candidate ought to ignore New Kent County, just the most yield will be in the other localities in this district.

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. it is encouraging that six of the ten largest precincts fall below the red line. Other weaknesses are exposed in the two midsized districts that are furthest from the red line.


This district appears to be a strong Republican district. It will be a hard fought race for sure. That said, the data reveals great targets to be worked that could be exploited for potential victory here. This is also one of those seats that could play an important role up-ballot when you consider that the Greens drew 4,000 votes last cycle here.

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.

Voters in "Red America" are not voting against their own 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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