Democrat Casey Turben steps up in "Red America" District 29 Virginia House of Delegates - Data Snapshot
Democrats do have a candidate contesting District 29 this fall. Republican Chris Collins currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure only 9,997 votes in this uncontested district the last cycle. There was an unusually high number of write-in votes in this district which is a clear indication of dissatisfaction with the incumbent. Republicans have held this seat since 1993.
THE ANNOUNCED DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE IS CASEY TURBEN
District 29 "looks" like a relatively safe district, but let's take a look at the numbers and see what opportunity exists here.
DISTRICT 29 FAST FACTS
Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 46,629
Percent Registered = 58%
Total Vote in Last Race = 11,682
Participation Rate = 25%
Total Vote for Republican = 9,997
Total Vote for Democrat = 0
Total Vote Other = 1,685
Localities = Frederick and Warren Counties with Winchester City
District 29 has a total of 22 precincts with 12 in Frederick County, 6 in Winchester City, and 4 in Warren County. The fact that the participation rate is so low and that write-in votes in the most populous locality almost comprised 20% of the ballots cast means that this is a great target in what has been a reliably Republican seat for quite some time. Let's find the areas to exploit by looking at some data!
Here is the share of Active Voters by Locality:
Frederick County is obviously the most important area in this district. That said, Winchester City has a decent share of active voters too and the city localities, even in more rural regions, do tend to be more accessible to Democrats.
This next chart shows partisan vote share of total active voters per locality.
This bar graph makes it clear any Democrat hoping to win in this district will have to do well in Frederick County. The number of active voters that did not vote there is larger than the total eligible voters of the other two localities in the district. You also clearly see the high level of other votes cast in Frederick County. That is a sign of weak support for the incumbent for sure.
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. F = Frederick County, W = Warren County, and WC = Winchester City
This graphic does highlight some precincts that might yield the best chance to unseat this Republican. Kernstown would be a precinct I look more deeply at early on just to the fact it has the highest volume of write-in votes. Frankly, though, this Republican does not perform well in any particular area. Merrimans precinct gave him the most votes, but a decent number of people voted against him with a write-in vote, and a significant number did not bother to vote. This all bode wells for an insurgent Democratic campaign in this 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. While comparing this chart to others in other districts this seems to indicate strength for the Republican since so many of the largest precincts fall above the red line, the fact remains only one precinct of 22 cast more than 700 votes for this incumbent.
District 29 appears ripe for the picking, even if a tough fight. The Democratic candidate in the district is well aware of the history of that last race as well, which is a great sign. It is great to see a real leader like Casey step up in this district where the Republican seems to enjoy unusually weak support. Casey mounting this challenge gives us a great shot to pick up a seat that is not obviously a target under typical conditions.
Photo Credit: Peter Fitzgerald [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Here are more reasons why we should field a full slateTM 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 support Casey running for this seat and find others in the 18 districts across the state that still need a Democratic challenger as yet. Let's run a Full Slate TM.