Two weeks to go folks, two weeks. Virginia has once again seen ungodly amounts of money and advertisements for its elections. I know its been a while, so here are the last changes before Election Eve in Virginia.
House of Delegates
- HD-30: Likely Republican to Lean Republican: This West Loudoun seat is hearing some rumblings about being closer than expected this cycle. A very narrow Biden seat in 2020 (he won by less than a point) has seen strong fundraising numbers from Democrat Rob Banse. GOP candidate Geary Higgins has failed to keep up and has also been heavily outspent on the airwaves versus Banse. The partisan background and lean of this seat should still keep it in GOP hands. But this is a race that seems set to be closer than it should be. Some GOP operatives fear that Higgins has fallen asleep at the wheel and is willing to ride the wave of this seat rather than fight for it. I still believe Higgins will be ok, and unless I get some shocking news in the next two weeks, this is likely the resting place rating wise for this seat.
- HD-57: Toss-Up to Lean Republican: I really did ponder not making this move. I am not as certain as others that the scandal surrounding Democrat Susanna Gibson is enough to make this seat more out of reach for Democrats than others. However, people in charge seem to believe so. In the first fundraising period after it was found that Gibson and her husband made pornographic videos on the site Chaturbate for money, money from big sources froze up. The $50,000 she received from the VHDCC came before the news broke on 9/11 and she did not receive any money from them after or fellow big time (mostly) Democratic PAC Clean Virginia. Ad spending has also been not at the level of the other key races and I have had insiders from both sides tell me that the scandal has made Gibson an underdog. Maybe not as large of a one as others believe, but a decent enough one that this change is warranted now rather than in two weeks.
- HD-58: Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic: In the other competitive Henrico House seat, we see a change in the other direction. Riley Shaia was a touted GOP recruit for this seat, but the partisan lean of this seat is just too strong. I think Shaia can still get within 4-5 points of incumbent Democrat Rodney Willett, it’s hard for me to see her doing any better than that. Couple in being outspent over the air and in general, and this is a full reach seat now.
- HD-64: Likely Republican to Safe Republican: I do shift one seat off the board and it’s this Middle Stafford seat. I still have concerns about Paul Milde as a candidate. However, they always say third times the charm. Compared to the other Likely GOP seats, we have seen a lack of outside investment, spending and advertisements in this race. House Republicans do not seem concerned about Milde, nor do Democrats seem to believe they can beat him this time. In the future this will be a more competitive race. But not this go round in my eyes.
- HD-84: Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic: If I could put the same analysis from HD-58 here I would. But that would be lazy. It is however a similar dynamic. A reach seat that has moved away from competitiveness in recent months. Republican Mike Dillender has admittedly put up a better funded and stronger campaign than I previously expected of him. But I don’t see it making enough of a dent here to beat Democrat Nadarious Clark. Clark has outraged and outspent Dillender at every corner, and while again I could see Dillender getting closer than one would think, it won’t be nearly close enough.
- SD-16: Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic: The end seems nigh for incumbent Republican Siobhan Dunnevant. She has certainly run a spirited campaign, her running again has likely made Democrats throw more money here than they wanted. But you can say the same for Republicans in this space. It’s key to remember that Dunnevant narrowly lost the Henrico portion of her old district in 2019, and it’s only continued to trend left since then. I see her doing better than most Republicans likely will for a long time here, but it won’t be enough.
- SD-17: Toss-up to Lean Republican: Some people will question this change by looking at the money spent on ads. Clint Jenkins, the Democrat, dropped around $450,000 combined this week and last in terms of TV money. However, I think it’s a tale of too little too late. Jenkins, even though Brewer had a primary, let her run almost unopposed throughout all of September. Insiders continue to criticize his campaign, and I would be concerned that the more Republican HD-83 is showing more early votes than the more Democratic leaning HD-84. The tightness of this seat still means it will be close and that Jenkins still has a chance. But he needed to do more early on in a seat that’s in the one part of Virginia that is truly seeing a rightward shift. I don’t feel he’s done enough to turnout the rural black voters that are tough to get in these off-off year races, and combined with other issues, I see him now as a true underdog to Republican Emily Brewer.
- SD-30: Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic: Another reach seat off the board, this time for Republicans. While Bill Woolf has caught up in the money game, he’s still behind Democrat Danica Roem. On top of that, Woolf dealt with some negative press that showed he was being investigated at his old police job before he resigned, drawing criticism to his record. On top of that, insiders have told me his campaign internally is a mess. Woolf has the background that would make this seat competitive on paper. But truly it is the internal mistakes that have made this call for me. I don’t think he gets particularly close on election night, and that could have consequences for Republicans elsewhere down the ballot.