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Running in "Red America" - District 55 Virginia House of Delegates - Democrat needed!

Running in "Red America" - District 55 Virginia House of Delegates - Democrat needed!

Democrats have no candidate contesting District 55 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 Buddy Fowler currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure only 10,870 votes in this contested district the last cycle. He won with a 3,752 vote margin of victory over the Democratic contender in 2015. Republicans have held this seat since 1982.

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

DISTRICT 55 FAST FACTS

Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 51,770
Percent Registered = 65%
Total Vote in Last Race = 18,026
Participation Rate = 35%
Total Vote for Republican = 10,870
Total Vote for Democrat = 7,118
Total Vote Other = 38
Localities = Caroline, Hanover, and Spotsylvania Counties

District 55 has a total of 33 precincts with 19 in Hanover County, 11 in Caroline County, and 3 in Spotsylvania County. This area 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:

Hanover County dominates this district. There are twice as many active registered voters in Hanover County than the other two localities combined. That said, if you run in this district, you will want to pay attention to all areas represented by this seat.

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

The bar graph above again illustrates the dominance of Hanover County. More people did not vote there than are registered voters in Caroline and Spotsylvania Counties. That said, the Democrat outperformed the Republican in Caroline County, and it would be worth pressing any advantage that can be found there as well.

The next bar graph breaks down Republican margin by precinct. The initial at the beginning of the precinct name is the locality for the precinct. C = Caroline County, H = Hanover County, and S = Spotsylvania County.

This bar graph highlights that four of the six precincts the Democratic candidate are in Caroline County. This chart gives you a sense of the scale of the victory the Republican enjoyed in the last cycle, but it also shows the most narrowly contested areas. Working from left to right when planning a campaign here might be a sensible option for sure. Let's look at partisan vote share by precinct to see if there are approaches to consider.

This graphic runs a little counter to just considering the margin of victory by precinct. It is sorted the same as the prior chart left to right by margin. When you target precincts to focus on in this district though you will want to actually look to precincts like Atlee. It may be the precinct the Rpublican drew the most votes in, but it does also have the largest number of people who did not vote. You need to go to where the voters are, even if the Republican performs well there. It is the inescapable reality of electoral politics.

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. The sweet spot are the precincts that are above the red line for the Democrat and below the blue line for the Republican.

District 55 will be a heavy lift for any Democrat seeking this seat. That said, the last Democrat did fairly well against an entrenched red district. It is very important we Democrats find a viable candidate in this district that can capitalize on the ground work laid by the last candidate. At minimum, running here will allow us to move the ball forward in the district.

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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