Running in "Red America", what it would take in District 4 Virginia House of Delegates race
Democrats have no candidate contesting District 4 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 Todd Pillion currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure 13,967 in this uncontested district the last cycle. This seat was held by a Democrat until the 2013 campaign when a republican ran uncontested for the seat.
With that in mind, let's turn our attention to some data.
DISTRICT 4 FAST FACTS
Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 46,874
Percent Registered = 59%
Total Vote in Last Race = 13,967
Participation Rate = 30%
Total Vote for Republican = 13,797
Total Vote for Democrat = 0
Total Vote Other = 170
Localities = Dickenson, Russell, Washington and Wise Counties
District 4 has a total of 36 precincts with 13 in Russell County, 10 in Dickenson County, 9 in Washington County, and 4 in Wise County. The percent active registered voters and participation rate are both what I expect to see in an uncontested area. If we hope to gain traction in this type of district, it will take breaking some norms to do it. But there are opportunities to be found, let's look at some numbers.
Here is the share of Active Voters by Locality:
Russell and Washington Counties contain a sizable portion of the Active Registered Voters in this district. That said, Dickenson and Wise have enough of these folks to warrant some serious attention as well.
This next chart shows partisan vote share of total active voters per locality.
The bar graph demonstrates what the pie chart does, Russell and Washington have the larger percentages of voters, however, softer support is evident in the smaller localities in this district. You do need to go where the most voters are to win, for certain, but the weaker support in the smaller areas is worth exploiting to our advantage as well.
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. D = Dickenson, R = Russell, W = Washington, and WI = Wise.
Once you start breaking it down into precinct levels, you can find the areas to target across all four counties. From South Clintwood in Dickenson County to South Coeburn in Wise County there are a good number of precincts with plenty of non-voters to work. You want to work everywhere, but these areas should draw some level of focus at the least.
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. This chart illustrates the difficulty challenging in this district presents. Most of the largest precincts in terms of active registered voters are above the line. That is an indication of stronger support and better organization for the incumbent in those areas. You would prefer to have more of those falling below the line, but, we need to compete for these votes in any event.
While this will be a heavy lift, Democrats in the area ought to compete for this seat if they can.
Here is why.
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.
CONNECT WITH YOUR LOCAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY
- Dickenson County Democrats Facebook
- Russell County VA Democratic Committee Facebook
- Washington County Virginia Democrats
- Wise County Democratic Party Facebook
We need people to step up across Virginia. We are doing well contesting 79 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 20 districts across the state that needs a Democratic challenger as yet.