News · Press Release

DCCC Memo: Impact of Virginia Statewide & Local Elections on 2018

TO: Interested Parties
FR: Jacob Peters, Press Secretary
DT: November 9, 2017
RE: Impact of Virginia Statewide & Local Elections on 2018

Tuesday’s statewide and local results in Virginia made it clear that the enthusiasm behind Virginia Democrats is off the charts, while the establishment Republican brand is producing a powerful backlash at the polls across the Commonwealth.

Virginia is a true battlefield – a purple landscape with metropolitan areas, numerous suburbs and exurbs, and expansive rural areas. On Tuesday night, Governor-elect Ralph Northam and down-ballot candidates in every corner of the Commonwealth rode an overwhelming surge of Democratic grassroots energy to victory.

That’s because Virginia Democrats did not shy away from expanding the map and recruiting strong candidates, even where it was not obvious that they could win. From Loudon County, to the Tidewater, to Henrico County, Democrats stepped up to run, embraced the energy emanating from the grassroots, and won.

This is a key parallel to the DCCC strategy across the country and in the Commonwealth, where the decision to aggressively target and recruit in Virginia leaves candidates well prepared to ride this momentum into 2018.

And there is a lot of momentum to ride. Democratic turnout and support spiked, and in the right places. Ralph Northam outperformed the 2016 Democratic Presidential ticket in every single Congressional district, including DCCC-targeted districts. Thirteen of the fifteen delegate seats that Virginia Democrats flipped are in DCCC-targeted Congressional Districts, with two more too close to call. In Virginia’s Tenth Congressional District, they flipped seven, with the recount for one still underway.

The results should make Reps. Barbara Comstock, Scott Taylor, Thomas Garrett, and Dave Brat very nervous about their chances in 2018. The news is worst for Comstock, who woke up to headlines like this after Election Day: After Virginia blowout, Comstock’s road to reelection grows steeper.

Bottom line: The House is in play, Virginia is essential in House Democrats’ pursuit of the majority, and that path is even clearer after Virginia’s elections.

In an effort to quantify how Tuesday’s results translate from statewide and down ballot races to the 2018 congressional battlefield, we looked at voter turnout surges overall and in key areas. We then compared this to top of the ticket performances overall and in key areas, analyzed how Democratic pickups in House of Delegates races overlapped with targeted districts for  2018, and highlighted how Democrats are going to win on the issues that voters are most concerned about.

The grassroots energy behind Virginia Democrats is real, and it translated at the polls

Statewide turnout took a huge jump from comparable elections:

[Virginia Department of Elections, Unofficial Results, accessed 11/9/17]

Enthusiasm is highest in areas that delivered for Northam, and will deliver DCCC-targeted districts in 2018:

[Washington Post, 11/8/17]

Governor-elect Ralph Northam outperformed Hillary Clinton in EVERY Congressional district:

*DCCC targeted district

[Virginia Department of Elections, Unofficial Results, accessed 11/9/17]


The shift in the suburbs is a trend, not a blip

In suburban counties that are key to three DCCC-targeted Congressional races, the surge in Democratic turnout in 2016 did not go away, it accelerated. This is bad news for Reps. Scott Taylor and Dave Brat, whose suburban counties delivered with greater margins for Northam than they did for Clinton. And as always, the news is worst for Rep. Barbara Comstock’s district, where Loudon County looks more like a Democratic stronghold than a purple bellwether, and Fairfax County is now deep blue.

*CD= Congressional District

[Virginia Department of Elections, Unofficial Results, accessed 11/9/17]


House of Delegates Upsets are a Roadmap to Flipping Congressional Seats

Democrats flipped thirteen House of Delegates districts within DCCC-targeted Congressional Districts, with two more too close to call. Of these fifteen possible pickups, twelve of them were delegate districts that Clinton carried in 2016, while three voted for President Trump.

In VA-02, the Democrats flipped two delegate seats, one that Clinton carried in 2016 and one that Trump carried.

In VA-05, HD 31 swung almost 16 percentage points from 2015 to deliver this Clinton-district for the Democrat.

In VA-07, Democrats flipped three Clinton delegate districts, and have one Trump seat too close to call.

And in Rep. Barbara Comstock’s VA-10, a whopping six Clinton delegate seats flipped to Democrats, with another too close to call. Democrats also flipped a delegate seat that Trump carried in 2016, for a total of seven delegate seats that went from Republican to Democratic hands.

The surge in Democratic support in these House of Delegates races is encouraging. It also mirrors the analysis of the suburban counties – areas that delivered for Democrats in 2016 are still delivering now, and in many cases even more so. If Democratic Congressional candidates can harness this energy and passion in the same way, they have a roadmap for flipping these DCCC-targeted House races in 2016.

*Too close to call      ^Trump District

[Virginia Department of Elections, Unofficial Results, accessed 11/9/17]

Voters have seen the Republican agenda in action and they are rejecting it outright.

The surge in turnout wasn’t random. A year into unified Republican control of D.C., the establishment Republican brand is toxic. Voters don’t trust them on the issues that matter most, and Republican attempts to use dog whistle politics backfired.

When voters were asked which policy issue mattered most in their vote for Governor, a massive 39% indicated that healthcare was a deciding factor in their vote, and an overwhelming 77% of those who voted on healthcare supported Northam. And we expect the environment to continue changing in our favor, especially if Washington Republicans follow through on their plan to hike middle class taxes in order to pay for cuts for millionaires and big corporations.


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