November 1, 2021
So much of the focus of Tuesday’s election is surrounding whether Republican Glen Youngkin can pull an upset over Former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. While the Governor’s race is captivating the interest of national pundits, Democrats and Republicans have increasingly turned their attention down ballot to the Virginia House of Delegates races. The House of Delegates consists of 100 members who serve two-year terms. All 100 seats will be up on November 2. Democrats currently hold a 55-45 majority over Republicans which means Republicans only need to flip 6 seats to flip the chamber. With Youngkin’s increasing popularity in the polls this is beginning to seem more and more like a possibility.
As the House Of Delegates becomes increasingly competitive, Democrats and Republicans have spent copious amounts of money on trying to secure the chamber. So far, State Assembly Democrats have spent approximately $11.3M while Republicans have spent approximately $5.3M for the 2021 General. These sums represent an increase of approximately $2M for Democrats compared to the 2019 General when Democrats spent approximately $8.8M and a decrease of approximately $1.5 million for Republicans who spent $6.2M in 2019. Does increased Democratic ad spending indicate increased enthusiasm for State House Democrats in their quest to hold the Assembly? Three bellwether Assembly races may give us an insight into whether the House of Delegates may change hands. These Assembly Districts are VA HD-10, VA HD-40, & VA HD-83.
Virginia HD-10 in Northern Virginia is represented by Democrat Wendy Gooditis, who in 2017 defeated Incumbent Republican Randy Minchew 51.9% to 48%; HD-10 is the quintessential bellwether district. Gooditis faced Randy Minchew again in 2019 and only improved 1 point defeating Minchew 52.3%-47.6%. Republicans think they can flip the seat back in 2021, however, Gooditis is outspending her Republican opponent Nick Clemente $1.2M to $509K, a 2 to 1 Margin.
Virginia HD-40 is another Northern Virginia bellwether district currently represented by Democrat Dan Helmer, who defeated Republican Incumbent Tim Hugo in 2019 52.3%-47.5%. Before running for his current seat in the House of Delegates, Helmer was nationally known for running in the 2018 VA CD-10 Democratic Primary where he aired a viral ad spoofing Top Gun; he received 12.5% of the vote in the primary election. While Republicans are attempting to take back the seat, Helmer has spent $713K on advertising while his GOP opponent, Harold Pyon, has only spent $93,000.
Virginia HD-83 is a Hampton Roads area seat encompassing the cities of Virginia Beach & Norfolk bordering the Chesapeake Bay. The current incumbent is Democrat Nancy Guy who defeated then incumbent Chris Stolle by just 27 votes 49.97%-49.85%. In 2017, Stolle defeated the Democratic candidate 56%-43%. Given the down ballot Republican DNA of the district, Republicans think they have an opportunity to flip it. However, Guy has outspent the current GOP candidate, Tim Anderson by $643K.
While Democrats are vastly outspending their GOP counterparts, financial advantages don’t always predict wins. National polling averages have the potential to spill down ballot, especially in off year elections. Currently President Joe Biden’s approval rating sits at 43.2%; 48% in Virginia. Given the high propensity of past split ticketing, Morning Consult highlights that strategists in Virginia are watching to see if the Anti-Trump model is successful. If that model is unsuccessful, “people are going to look at 2022 being a pretty big Republican year”.