Virginia is emerging as ground zero in next year’s battle for a House majority, with three Democrats, more than a quarter of their delegation, facing strong headwinds on their re-election bids.
The decennial redistricting process might upset the calculus, but as it stands, Representatives Democrats. Elaine luriaElaine Goodman Luria Will America Fight for Taiwan? On The Trail: Revenge Of The Indecisive Voter Dem Hopes Infrastructure Vote Will Hit The Brick Wall MORE, Abigail spanbergerAbigail Davis Spanberger Democrats shift focus to spending package after infrastructure approval Biden’s adviser rejects comment that president was not chosen ‘to be FDR’ Democrats debate whether they misunderstood the public about the mandate MORE, and Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn Wexton Republicans see education as a winning issue after the successes of Virginia On The Trail: Revenge of the swing voter Republican campaign arm of the House of Representatives expands target list after brutal night for Democrats PLUS, which represents the 2 of the stateNorth Dakota, 7thand 10th Congressional districts, respectively, are in tough races and the beating Democrats took in the state last week only highlighted the difficult road ahead.
Governor-elect Glenn youngkinGlenn YoungkinMellman: Aftermath of the 2021 Election: How Big Was That Change? Biden faces high stakes with progressives in the Fed election, Sununu’s departure underscores the GOP’s uncertain path to winning a Senate majority MORE (R) made progress in all three districts as he navigated victory over the former governor. Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffe New Jersey Senate President Sweeney concedes in dramatic upset Mellman: Aftermath of the 2021 Election: How Big Was That Change? Biden faces big bets with progressives in Fed election MORE (D), winning the district of Luria by approximately 8 points and the district of Spanburger by 15 points. Spanberger won by just under 2 points in 2020, while Luria led his district by about 5.5 points.
“Last night’s election results make it very clear that Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger are doomed to fail in 2022,” said National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (NRCC) spokeswoman Camille Gallo.
While McAuliffe won the Wexton district, which is in the reliable blue of Northern Virginia, the NRCC announced less than 24 hours after Youngkin’s victory that Wexton would be added to its offensive target list. Youngkin’s campaign had its sights set on Loudoun County, which is part of the Wexton District, as the county became the country’s epicenter for the battle between parents and school boards.
“I think the interesting one is Virginia 10 for sure,” said Virginia-based Republican strategist Zack Roday, referring to the Wexton district, which won by 13 points in 2020.
“I think most had thought that Northern Virginia was highly unlikely. Now you can clearly see the routes for three, ”he added.
Democrats across the country face the prospect of a bleak 2022, as they grapple with a redistricting process that appears to favor Republicans, resurgent grassroots energy among Republican voters, and historic trends favoring the party outside of the Republican Party. power in the first place. bids after a presidential election.
A Suffolk University poll released this week found leading Democratic Republicans on the generic Congressional ballot by eight points, 46 to 38 percent.
Republicans say they are eager to link vulnerable Democrats to Biden, citing his wavering approval ratings. The same Suffolk University poll showed the president’s approval rating to be a dismal 38 percent.
“Every poll shows a new low,” Roday said. “God, there seems to be no other way for him to go except to the flat line and maybe go up a bit.”
Aaron Cutler, former senior adviser to the former House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan Cantor Losing McCauliffe Exposes a Deepening Democratic Divide Conclusion Virginia’s Republican Candidates for Governor Prepare for Convention MORE (R-Va.), Who represented the Spanberger district from 2001 to 2014, also noted that none of Virginia’s popular Democratic senators are on track for re-election, leaving House candidates without a popular name in the top of the list to link.
The Republican Party also seems eager to link vulnerable Democrats to the party’s progressive flank, a strategy that could work well in Virginia’s changing districts.
“The progressive message, the attack on Trump, is not working in Virginia right now,” Cutler said.
Spanberger, in an attempt to counter that message, has long sought to distance himself from left-wing members of his party. Last week he drew attention during an interview with The New York Times when he said that Biden was chosen by the American people to “be normal and stop the chaos” and not to be another Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The comments, which came before the House passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill last week, met with pushback from some within his party, including the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Sean Patrick Maloney (DN. AND.).
“We just passed the most important infrastructure bill in the history of our country and it will be very popular with voters,” Maloney told the Times on Tuesday. “I think those comments are already out of date. What happens to FDR if you get the achievements? ”
Democrats argue that it is still too early to read the tea leaves on how competitive constituencies will fare a year before the midterm elections, pointing to a number of factors including a potential shift in the national environment and the redistribution battle. of districts looming over the states. like Virginia.
Several Democrats cited last week’s better-than-expected jobs report, as well as the passage of Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal last week.
Spanberger has outlined the legislation’s goal of expanding broadband coverage and repairing lead pipes and service lines in his district. Democratic allies say the bill will benefit virtually every district in the country, including Luria, which is home to the port of Virginia and a large military presence in Hampton Roads.
“This is absolutely a victory for the Virginia Democratic coalition,” said Brad Komar, director of independent spending for the House Majority PAC.
“Anyone who does not believe that infrastructure affects Virginia has not sat in traffic hours at 66, 95 and 64,” he joked.
Komar, who also led Governor Ralph Northam (D) ‘s successful 2017 gubernatorial campaign, predicted that Democratic turnout will be even higher in 2022.
“We’re going to have a more federal turnout next year, which is going to be a more Democratic electorate than the odd-numbered electorate,” Komar said, pointing to past Democratic performances in districts, like the 10th, that Northam won by 11 points. . in 2017 and Wexton won by 13 in 2018. Komar also pointed to Democrats who hold multiple seats in the House of Delegates in suburban Virginia, but acknowledged that the party underperformed in exurban and rural areas.
Democrats also cite redistricting as a major factor, highlighting population changes and growth. The Virginia Redistricting Commission’s decision to redistricts in early fall ended in a deadlock between Republicans and Democrats. Now the responsibility has fallen on the Supreme Court of the state.
Both Republicans and Democrats point to the very real possibility that Republican primaries in these districts could benefit Democrats in general elections.
“If the Republicans cannibalize themselves enough, then it would be easier for the Democrats to win later,” Cutler said.
So far, five Republicans have run to run in the second district primaries, while six have declared in the 10th district. In District 7, six Republicans ran, including state senator and former gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase (R).
Chase, who hails from the conservative, pro-Trump wing of the party, was defeated by Youngkin at the state Republican convention earlier this year. Many say she would have had a better chance of winning at a primary than at a convention where delegates used a rank-choice voting process.
Speaker of the Republican House Conference Elise stefanikElise Marie Stefanik Republicans see education as a winning issue after Virginia’s successes Republican leader says Republicans could trade 60 seats next year Defense and national security overnight – Presented by Raytheon Technologies – Biden backs down on Taiwan PLUSThe (RN.Y.) E-PAC endorsed Jen Kiggins in the 2nd district and Jeanine Lawson in the 10th district on Tuesday. The PAC named Taylor Keeney, a candidate from Virginia’s 7th District, to its “Women to Watch” list.
So far, the primaries appear to reflect the tensions between the party establishment and the populist wings that were last seen in 2014 when former Rep. Dave Brat (R-Virginia) toppled Cantor in the district primaries.
“This is ground zero in the fight for the party,” said a Republican strategist.