Contribute to support this content
Winning in "Red America" - District 16 Virginia House of Delegates - We need a Democratic candidate

Winning in "Red America" - District 16 Virginia House of Delegates - We need a Democratic candidate

Democrats have no candidate contesting District 16 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 Les Adams currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure only 12,538 in this uncontested district the last cycle. Republicans have held this seat since 2001. This seat historically has switched parties for decent stretches of time under control of both. An Independent even won a few times in the past 60 years or so.

The one anomalous thing about this district is during the 1970s. 
Every election but one saw participation rates above 40,000 voters during the 70s. Before and after that decade vote totals rarely cleared 15,000 votes. I am not certain what that means entirely, it could be an error in data reporting by the Virginia Board of Elections. Does anyone in the area have any insight as to why this might be?


Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 47,642
Percent Registered = 60%
Total Vote in Last Race = 12,755
Participation Rate = 27%
Total Vote for Republican = 12,538
Total Vote for Democrat = 0
Total Vote Other = 237
Localities = Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren Counties

District 16 has a total of 41 precincts with 23 in Pittsylvania County, 12 in Henry County, and Martinsville City. There is opportunity aplenty in this district. The low participation rate yields many chances to gain ground here. There is an odd stability of support for the Republican though, despite the low turn out.

Let's dig into the data to see what I mean by that.

Here is the share of Active Voters by Locality:

Pittsylvania makes up most of this district. That said, the other two localities are large enough to warrant at least a more thorough look at those areas as well. Of course, you never want to ignore any part of a district. You do want to focus your energy where you can gain the most traction though.

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

The bar graph above reinforces the importance of Pittsylvania County in this district. The volume of people that did not vote there is just slightly lower than the total number of eligible voters in Henry County and Martinsville City combined. It remains, that the low participation across the board indicates we ought to pay attention to each locality.

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. H = Henry County, P = Pittsylvania County, and M = Martinsville City.

This is where you see evidence of some decent organizing by the Republicans in this district despite the low participation rate. That is indicated by the high rate of support, relatively speaking, in the largest precincts overall. Of the four precincts with more than 2,000 active voters, 3 of them exceed 30% participation. 2 of 3 with more than 1,500 but less than 2,000 active voters enjoy higher than the average 27% participation rate as well. That means, while there is weakness overall, the Republican is at least deploying some strategy to keep in contact with his 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. This chart shows some weak spots in the midsized precincts, but, as noted above, the Republican enjoys some of his strongest support in the largest precincts.

District 16 is a winnable district. Any election that has less than 30% participation is winnable for the opposition in the next cycle. That said, there is a level of deceptive strength for the incumbent that must be accounted for. None of these races will be cake walks, but we should field a candidate in every district we can. You can not win if you do not run.

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 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 TM.

A challenging seat in "Red America" - Virginia House of Delegates District 24 - Democratic candidate needed!

A challenging seat in "Red America" - Virginia House of Delegates District 24 - Democratic candidate needed!

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