Virginia House of Delegates Ratings Update: Post-Labor Day Edition

With less than two months to go and one of the last major fundraising reports out, the time has come for another ratings update. With both polling and the financial reports this period, both have been taken into account for these changes. We are nearing the end of our Virginia coverage, and the chamber is still closer than ever.

Changes for this Month

We have six changes for everyone this month. Five are in favor of Republicans, with one in favor of the Democrats. We also have many races to watch as we get closer to making our final call on some of these races.

Official Ratings Changes

  • HD-28 (Leans Democratic to Tossup): A seat that seemed to be in the favor of the Democrats back in the early summer has returned to its swingy roots. With polls showing a close race, and with the average still having McAuliffe up by about five, this is a district with heavy probability to swing back. Outside spending shows this, with both parties dropping decent amounts into the district this period. Republican Tara Durant has also been boosted by almost $81,000 in positive outside spending from Americans for Prosperity. This will likely be one of the closest races this cycle and that’s why it’s back in the toss-up category.
  • HD-33 (Likely Republican to Safe Republican) Dave LaRock has his issues as a candidate, and he is probably too extreme for this district as is. But we see no caucus spending from either side – this is still a Trump seat. We understand some of the hype around Democrat Paul Siker, but the numbers just aren’t there. LaRock should see another term as a delegate.
  • HD-51 (Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic): This seat shouldn’t be here, especially considering it’s 2019 margin and as an open seat. But GOP candidate Tim Cox has just run that unserious of a campaign. With another dismal fundraising period on hand, plus Democrat Brianna Sewell’s massive COH advantage, Cox won’t be able to mount a comeback. This seat is off the board, and Hala Ayala’s seat will stay with Democrats almost certainly.
  • HD-62 (Likely Republican to Safe Republican): Similarly to the 51st, Democrat Jasmine Gore has probably run one of the worst campaigns for Democrats this year. Gore has done next to nothing to build a campaign in this narrow Biden seat. Incumbent Carrie Coyner is also considered a moderate by most, and has shown little signs of panic. This is a safe R seat now, an a disappointment this year for Democrats.
  • HD-81 (Likely Republican to Safe Republican): Once again, a campaign is moving off the board. While this is a narrow seat here, incumbent Barry Knight is running a far better campaign than Democrat Jeffrey Feld here. Feld just doesn’t have the structure to compete here and it’s a big reason why we now consider the seat off the board.
  • HD-96 (Likely Republican to Safe Republican): This looked like one that could have been surprisingly on the board earlier in the cycle. Driven by solid self funding and decent enough early fundraising numbers, Democrat Mark Downey seemed well placed to give Amanda Batten a contest in this 2019 rematch. However, those hopes have died down since July. Downey has stopped self funding and his fundraising has dried up. Batten didn’t fall asleep and has now built herself a decent fundraising advantage over Downey. This race has left the realm of competitiveness for now and is considered a safe Republican hold.

Ones to watch

However, there are multiple competitive races to watch that we did not decide to change this period. One is, of course, District 40. If we had tilt ratings here, this would 100% be in a tilt democratic category. However, we don’t do that here and we don’t feel like this race is a toss-up just yet. However, Harold Pyon’s campaign has reportedly made the inroads they have needed with Asian-Americans in the district. Which has been enough to put Democrats in the area on high alert.

Another one to watch is District 63, where Republican Kim Taylor has run a surprisingly strong campaign for this district. Taylor has gotten support from some Petersburg City leadership and showed some life fundraising this period. The House Democratic Caucus in Virginia also dumped thousands of dollars into incumbent Lashrecse Aird’s campaign this cycle. Aird still does have a strong fundraising advantage over Taylor, which is why the race stayed at Likely Democratic, but this race does seem potentially incredibly competitive on paper.

House Districts 72 and 85 are also seats to watch. In HD72, Republican Chris Holmes’s campaign came alive this period, showing some ability to be competitive with a stronger than expected finance period and is now in a race where we may move to Lean if he shows consistency in fundraising. In HD85, both parties dropped decent amounts of money into this Virginia Beach district. Democrat Alex Askew’s strong fundraising advantage still has us put this at Lean Democratic, but Republican Karen Greenhalgh is not to be counted out by any means.

A Note

We also want to put a note here from Harrison Lavelle and Ethan Chen who run our New Jersey ratings: The rating for New Jersey’s gubernatorial election has moved from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic.

Joe is a college student studying Public Administration at George Mason University while also minoring in Journalism. Joe is the Head of the Interviews Team at Elections Daily, while also Deputy Director of the Elections Team. If you would like your candidate to be interviewed by Joe, you can DM him at his Twitter account @JosephSzymanski or email him @[email protected]

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