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Sheila Crowley picks up the Democratic banner in District 98 Virginia House of Delegates race.

Sheila Crowley picks up the Democratic banner in District 98 Virginia House of Delegates race.

Democrats have a candidate contesting District 98 this fall. Republican Keith Hodges currently holds this post. The Republican was able to secure 15,039 votes in this uncontested race in the last cycle. No Democratic candidate had run for this seat since the 2011 election when Hodges first won this district. Republicans have held this seat since at least 1982.

THE DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER FOR THIS SEAT IS SHEILA CROWLEY

DISTRICT 98 FAST FACTS

Residents = 80,010
Active Registered Voters = 52,235
Percent Registered = 65%
Total Vote in Last Race = 15,293
Participation Rate = 29%
Total Vote for Republican = 15,039
Total Vote for Democrat = 0
Total Vote Other = 254
Localities = Essex, Gloucester, King & Queen, King William, Mathews, and Middlesex Counties

District 98 has a total of 32 precincts with 11 in Gloucester County, 7 in Middlesex County, 5 in King & Queen County, 4 in Essex County, 3 in Mathews County, and 2 in King William County. The Republican vote in this district has some wobble to it from cycle to cycle, but being a gubernatorial year does not seem to be the driver in the change. This has been a longtime Republican district, it is great to see a Democrat step up!

Let's take a look at what happened in the last race.

Here is the share of Active Voters by Locality:

The pie chart makes clear that, aside from the largest concentration in Gloucester County, active voters span the district relatively equitably. Og course you will devote a good deal of focus to Gloucester County, but you will need to look at precinct level data to find your best areas to target. First lets look at the votes cast by locality before we dig into those numbers though.

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

This graphic reinforces the importance of Gloucester County in this district.

The next bar graph breaks down partisan vote by precinct. The initial at the beginning of the precinct name is the locality for the precinct. E = Essex, G = Gloucester, KQ = King & Queen, KW = King William, M = Mathews, and MI = Middlesex Counties

It is not surprising that all of the best targets remain in Gloucester County. That said, looking at this precinct level data reveals that the Essex County precincts all look like promising targets. It would also be worth taking an early look at Piankatank and Westville in Mathews County and West point in King William County.

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 presents us with a relatively tight grouping, which is indicative of stable support for the incumbent. While that may be the case, the cluster of precincts between 1,500 active voters and 2,500 almost all fall below the red line and many make up the precincts furthest below as well. That reveals soft spot in his support and would be the areas I tried to exploit in planning any campaign here.

This district appears to be a strongly Republican district. It will be a hard-fought race for sure. That said, the data reveals targets to be worked that could be exploited for potential victory here. This is also one of those seats that could play an important role up-ballot.

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region (Bavon Beach project  Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Voters in "Red America" are not voting against their own 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.

It is exciting to see all of the people choosing to step up across Virginia. We are doing well contesting 88 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 our game in these districts and go out there and get their votes. Let's work together to support Sheila in this race and the other 87 House of Delegates races in Virginia this fall. Let's run a Full Slate TM.

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