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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!

Democrats have no candidate contesting District 24 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 Ben Cline currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure only 13,488 in this contested district the last cycle. That was enough to enjoy a 7,971 margin of victory over the Democratic contender in 2015. Republicans have held this seat since 1982. There have only been two Republicans to hold this seat in all that time.

That makes this a relatively safe district, but let's take a look at the numbers and see what opportunity exists here.

DISTRICT 24 FAST FACTS

Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 45,084
Percent Registered = 56%
Total Vote in Last Race = 19,041
Participation Rate = 42%
Total Vote for Republican = 13,488
Total Vote for Democrat = 5,517
Total Vote Other = 36
Localities = Amherst, Augusta, Bath and Rockbridge Counties with Buena Vista and Lexington Cities

District 24 has a total of 21 precincts with 17 in Rockbridge County, 9 in Amherst County, 7 in Bath County, 6 in Augusta County, 2 in Buena Vista City, and 1 in Lexington City. This has been a reliably Republican district for quite some time. Let's take a deeper dive to get a better idea of what is going on here.

Here is the share of Active Voters by Locality:

Three localities will draw most of the attention of any campaign. That said, there might be some opportunity in the three smaller areas as well. It's hard to gauge where I would dig in first based on this pie chart alone. 

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

The bar graph above illustrates clearly that Rockbridge, Amherst, and Augusta Counties will decide the outcome of this election. If a Democrat hopes to win, they need to improve their vote share in those three areas. That said, it may be worth starting with the city areas first since those show the lowest rate of support for the Republican compared to the total active voters there.

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. A = Amherst, AU = Augusta, B = Bath, BV = Buena Vista, L = Lexington, and R = Rockbridge.

This bar graph highlights the challenge facing any Democrat stepping up in this district. I would start with Lexington simply because that is the largest precinct supporting the Democrat in the last cycle. Honestly, though, any progressive candidate are going to have to attack the strength of the Republican here too. Stuart's Draft and Courthouse precincts both have high levels of support for the Republican, but that also have significant numbers of active voters that just did not turn out, so I would start working those hard once I secure my base in Lexington.

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 while the strongest support for the Democrat will be above the blue line. Other than Lexington precinct on the far right, the Republican appears to have outperformed the Democrat in every precinct. That being true, precincts to target early might be those blue dots above the blue line while the red dot is below the red line. While the Republican still did better there in the last cycle, that combination highlights at least some potential there.

District 24 will be a heavy lift for any Democrat seeking this seat. It still is important for us to field and support a candidate here. There is value in running a full slate of candidates in any election, not least of which is potential affects of other races, even up the ballot.

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.

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