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A tough race in red America - District 15 Virginia House of Delegates - We should still run here

A tough race in red America - District 15 Virginia House of Delegates - We should still run here

Democrats have no candidate contesting District 15 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 Gilbert currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure only 16,102 in this uncontested district the last cycle. Republicans have held this seat since 1981. No Democrat has contested this seat since 2009.

With that in mind, let's turn our attention to some data.


Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 47,556
Percent Registered = 59%
Total Vote in Last Race = 16,452
Participation Rate = 33%
Total Vote for Republican = 16,102
Total Vote for Democrat = 0
Total Vote Other = 350
Localities = Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren Counties

District 15 has a total of 25 precincts with 12 in Shenandoah County, 5 in Page County, 5 in Warren County, and 3 in Rockingham County. Frankly, of the races I have looked at so far, this is a stable seat for the Republicans. In the last contest for this district, the Republican drew 16,168 votes. Typically when a race goes uncontested for a number of cycles, you will see that support degrade at least slightly. This stability indicates this Republican is likely pretty well organized and supported by his base in this district.

That said, it is still worth a deeper look at the data to see where we might gain some traction.

Here is the share of Active Voters by Locality:

Shenandoah is the leading locality in this district by far. Page has a large enough population of active voters to warrant significant attention as well. Beyond that though, we need to dig deeper to get a better idea where you would want to focus.

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

The bar graph above highlights the strength of the Republican in this district. He is pretty well organized. The two largest counties enjoy the two highest participation rates. That does not mean there is not an opportunity in this district; there is always opportunity. It just means we will have to attack where we might see the best yield out of the strong points for the Republican.

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. P = Page, R = Rockingham, S = Shenandoah, and W = Warren.

Attacking the strength means you go where the largest numbers of Did Not Vote active registered voters are despite the fact that they form the basis of your opponents strongest areas of support. All Page County precincts are ripe targets for example. I would throw in Woodstock and Strasburg precincts from Shenandoah County as well as Otterburn in Warren County into my priority list.

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. This chart shows some strength for the Republican in the form of a relatively tight grouping near the line. However, the two largest precincts do fall below the line, if only slightly for one. That makes them potential fertile ground for an insurgent campaign in this stable district.

I won't lie, this district will be a tough get. It remains, the only way you have any chance is to run. Even if a win is not likely, we must begin to start building relationships in districts like this. Running a full slate of candidates is important.

Here are more reasons 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.


We need people to step up across Virginia. We are doing well contesting 81 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 18 districts across the state that needs a Democratic challenger as yet. Let's run a Full Slate.
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