Politics

Morning Digest: Our new data shows just how vulnerable Virginia's GOP legislators are this November

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

VA State Senate, VA State House: Virginians went to the polls Tuesday to choose nominees for this November’s state elections, when all 40 seats in the state Senate and all 100 in the House of Delegates will be up. Republicans hold just a 21-19 majority in the Senate and an equally thin 51-49 edge in the House, so Old Dominion Democrats have the chance to take control of both chambers of the legislature while also holding the governorship for the first time since early 1994. In a new post, where we take a look at the large playing field in both chambers.

Campaign Action

Daily Kos Elections previously crunched the numbers for the 2016 presidential results for every district in the Senate and House (using the new lines for the latter). Now, for the first time, we have results of the 2017 gubernatorial election, where Democrat Ralph Northam beat Republican Ed Gillespie 54-45, calculated by legislative district. Particularly worrisome for Republicans is the fact that Northam almost universally performed better than Hillary Clinton, exceeding her margins in 85 House districts and 35 Senate seats—and almost all of the seats where he did not either saw only minor shifts or are uncompetitive.

However, Team Blue still faces plenty of obstacles in both chambers especially given the cavalcade of misery surrounding Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who’ve steadfastly refused to resign in the face of separate scandals that broke in February. To make matters worse, if the Senate ends up being deadlocked 20-20, Democrats would have to count on Fairfax to break a Senate tie in their favor. While the Senate won’t be up again until 2023, the lieutenant governor’s office is on the ballot again in 2021, so a GOP win there would flip a tied Senate back to them. And Democrats won’t be comfortable staking their majority on Fairfax, whom two women have accused of sexually assaulting them.

Democrats also inherited a new problem on Tuesday when the notorious Joe Morrissey unseated Sen. Rosalyn Dance in the Democratic primary for a safely blue Richmond seat, despite having a litany of ugly scandals to his name. Morrissey has left the party to become an independent twice in the last five years, and while he’s a Democrat again, he said after his primary victory that he’d been receiving calls from both parties to caucus with both of them. Given all that’s transpired with him over the last few years, Team Blue can’t afford to rely on him to secure a Senate majority.

Still, Democrats do have a real shot to take outright majorities in both chambers. Republicans need to defend four Clinton Senate seats and seven Clinton House districts, while there are no Democratic-held Trump seats. An additional two GOP-held districts in the Senate and four in the House went for Northam; no Democratic seats voted for Gillespie. Click through for our tour of the battlegrounds for more on what will be some of the biggest elections to watch in 2019.
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