A Summer Look: Election 2016

In honor of my son’s birthday and before things get too busy at NOVA, I thought to put down a few words—and a map—predicting the presidential election on November 8. These humble predictions are built on a few premises:

  • Voter turnout will be high, averaging 60% or more of eligible voters.
  • The Clinton campaign maintains discipline and resolves computer vulnerabilities. With two successful senatorial campaigns under her belt, she presides over a fourth presidential campaign.
  • The Trump campaign continues its chaotic rampage, alienating key states and ethnic groups. He is a novice at political campaigns, which is appealing to those who despise the so-called political elite.
  • The media harasses both candidates relentlessly.
  • The polls purport to show a close race, so pollsters can get paid.
How the Election Day map may look in November.

How the Election Day map may look in November.


On Election Day, Clinton should win with at least 348 electoral votes, versus some 140 for Trump. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to become U.S. President. A brief analysis of key states on the map:

Virginia. Details on why Virginia will go to Clinton can be found in my recent blog, Is Virginia a Swing State?

North Carolina. Republican Governor Pat McCrory, deeply unpopular, is in a close race for reelection; also, a federal appeals court overturned a new voter ID law. Dismissal of the voter ID law would help Democrats get more votes.

Florida. Trump has managed to offend the 3.2 million African Americans and 4.8 million Hispanics in the state. Even Cuban Americans, who normally vote Republican, will likely defect. Independent voters should align with the larger Democratic electorate to win Florida for Clinton. Meanwhile the Senate race in Florida could be the nation’s most expensive.

Ohio. At this time, Republican Governor John Kasich does not endorse Trump, meaning a divided GOP in Ohio, adding to the likelihood that Clinton will garner the state, as Obama did in 2008 and 2012.

Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Clinton should earn one electoral vote from Omaha, with its large minority population, as outlined in Electoral Geography 2016. The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, is a key Clinton supporter.

States Too Close to Call (Swing States)

A generic Republican candidate would win the states below, but Donald Trump is a decidedly unconventional candidate and his campaign’s missteps could cost him a number of previously red states, as shown on the map.

Missouri. This state is a target for the Clinton campaign, as it has a history of electing Democrats statewide. The Obama campaign lost Missouri in 2008 by only 4,000 votes. Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, grew up in Missouri, and the state could be won with a large turnout in urban areas; however, this is where Rush Limbaugh country meets Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter.

Montana. Obama lost this state by some 10,000 votes in 2008. Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is highly popular and is running for reelection. Clinton’s campaign organization in the state is impressive, whereas Trump seems to be taking Montana for granted.

Indiana. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, could help keep this a red state; however, Democrat Evan Bayh is leading in the Senate race. In addition, the governor’s race is tight, meaning voter turnout should be high, which favors Democrats. Obama won this state in 2008 but lost it in 2012, when turnout was lower.

Arizona and Georgia should stay in the Republican column, even with their large minority population, but polls show that the race is close in both states.

Hillary Clinton will likely achieve an electoral landslide, and her campaign will increasingly focus on winning seats for Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.


Virginia Senate Map 2015: Mid-October Revision

Competitive Virginia Senate Races as of October 19, 2015

Competitive Virginia Senate Races as of October 19, 2015

Why the Revision?

After looking at candidate debate results and fundraising efforts to mid-October, I have made a few revisions to the map I published in early October:

District 6. First term Democratic Senator Lynwood Lewis will retain his seat. His opponent, Richard Ottinger, is faltering on fundraising. This race no longer seems to be a major contest.
Previous Prediction: Democratic hold
October 19 Prediction: Safe Democratic hold

District 7. A big issue pushed by Democrat Gary McCollum focuses on gifts received by Sen. Wagner, which could also be a reminder of Governor McDonnell’s conviction. Wagner is still ahead on fundraising, thanks in part to an infusion from the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus and the Republican Party of Virginia of some $100,000 in September alone. In response, McCollum has received a similar amount from comparable Democratic organizations. District demographics favor McCollum, but voter turnout in this type of election (not featuring a governor or president) gives Wagner the advantage. Low turnouts favor Republicans.
Previous Prediction: Tossup
October 19 Prediction: Tossup

District 10. The fight between Democrat Dan Gecker and Republican Glen Sturtevant over this district west of Richmond has been referred to as the “Gettysburg of Senate elections.” In September, Gecker raised the most money of any Senate candidate, with $501,500. In 2013, the district favored McAuliffe over Cuccinelli 46% to 42%, so Gecker should win. However, the Republican State Leadership Committee is not giving up, contributing a whopping $330,000 to Sturtevant in September and October.
Previous Prediction: Democratic pickup
October 19 Prediction: Democratic pickup

District 13. Republican Senator Dick Black is an incumbent in a Republican-leaning district. However, the district includes the fast-growing areas of eastern Loudoun county and northern Prince William county. The district seems to be trending more Democratic. A perceived sexist tweet directed at Democrat Jill McCabe from Senator Black appears to have made the race closer. Also, McCabe ($275,000) raised considerably more money than Black ($61,000) in September.
Previous Prediction: Republican hold
October 19 Prediction: Tossup

Senator Dick Black and Dr. Jill McCabe
Did Republican Senator Dick Black insult women?

NEW! District 19. I need to mention this fascinating three-way race in the heart of southwestern Virginia. Democratic Mike Hamlar has raised more money ($163,000) than Republican Dave Suetterlein ($117,000) in a solidly Republican district. Plus there is Republican squabbling over how Suetterlein got the nomination, and Republican Steven Nelson is running as an independent. If the Republican vote is split, then Hamlar could win; but it is likely that Republicans will retain this seat.
October 19 Prediction: Likely Republican hold

District 20. Republican Bill Stanley and Democrat Kim Adkins met in an early October debate, and the major topics included transportation (a future I-73) and education. In 2011, Stanley moved from District 19 to District 20, some Republicans resented him as an outsider; today he lives on the edge of District 20 in Glade Hill. However, Stanley leads in money and will need to make a mistake to lose an election in this Republican-leaning district, which voted for Gillespie over Senator Warner 51% to 47% in 2014. It is likely Stanley will hold on to his seat, unless voter turnout is unusually high.
Previous Prediction: Tossup
October 19 Prediction: Likely Republican hold 

Is District 20 Republican Senator Stanley in trouble?
Is District 20 Republican Senator Bill Stanley in trouble?

District 21. Virginia’s Republican Party organizations have been throwing money at this race to remove Senator Edwards, the last Democratic senator in southwestern Virginia, committing more than $152,000 to Republican Nancy Dye in September alone. What’s more, the national conservative group Americans for Prosperity (funded by the Koch Brothers) has taken aim at Senator Edwards for reckless job-killing energy mandates. However, voting trends in the district are decidedly Democratic, and Senator Edwards should win re-election.
Previous Prediction: Democratic hold
October 19 Prediction: Likely Democratic hold

District 29. Democrat Jeremy McPike’s campaign brought in $448,000 in September versus $264,000 for Republican Hal Parrish. In addition, the Republican State Leadership Committee gave $100,000 to the Parrish campaign October 19. In 2013, McAuliffe got 57% of the vote in this solidly Democratic district. McPike should win.
Previous Prediction: Democratic hold
October 19 Prediction: Likely Democratic hold

Looking at the map, Republicans are on the defensive more than Democrats. Based on Virginia’s statewide elections in 2013 and current campaign trends, the odds favor Democrats picking up the seats necessary to control the Virginia Senate.

David B. Miller, Geography & Geopolitics Instructor, NVCC-Alexandria & Annandale

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the view of the NOVA Institute for Public Service or Northern Virginia Community College as a whole. All materials may be reprinted with permission, for more information please contact the IPS Coordinator. Comments are welcome.

Senator Ebbin Visits NOVA Alexandria

State Senator Adam Ebbin came to the Alexandria campus to talk to Professor David Miller’s Cultural Geography (Geo 210) class on Thursday, March 19. Senator Ebbin represents the 30th district (parts of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax) as a Democratic member of the Virginia Senate. His district borders the Potomac River from National Airport to Mount Vernon and includes part of NOVA’s Alexandria campus. He spoke to students about gerrymandering, the Virginia Senate, and his bills in the recent legislative session.


Senator Ebbin discussing his district.

Ebbin explained that gerrymandering is the drawing of voting district boundaries in awkward shapes to make the districts safe for the party in power. A senator can choose voters rather than voters electing a senator.

In 2011, when the districts were drawn, Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion, Virginia House of Delegates, and the Virginia Senate. Therefore, the process of drawing new districts, or redistricting, tended to favor Republicans.

Virginia is a purple state with roughly equal populations of Republicans and Democrats, but the power of gerrymandering gives an edge to Senate Republicans, who hold 21 seats versus 19 seats for Democrats. Democratic voters are packed into Senator Ebbin’s elongated district, making districts to the south and west safer for Republicans. Each state senator represents about 200,000 people, and all 40 senators will be up for election in November 2015.

In 2011, District 30 changed in shape and size due to gerrymandering.

In 2011, District 30 changed in shape and size due to gerrymandering.

Senator Ebbin also discussed a number of his bills, including ones for cleaner energy, mass transit funding, and protections against discrimination in state employment. He highlighted his sponsorship of Senate Joint Resolution 337 commending Dr. Robert Templin for his 13 years of service as President of Northern Virginia Community College.


Senator Ebbin taking questions from students studying political geography.

After his presentation, Senator Ebbin met with Dr. Jimmie McClellan, Dean of Liberal Arts, and Marcus Henderson, Community Outreach Specialist.

David B. Miller, Assistant Professor, Geography, NVCC-Alexandria

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the view of the NOVA Institute for Public Service or Northern Virginia Community College as a whole. All materials may be reprinted with permission, for more information please contact the IPS Coordinator.

Demographics of Northern Virginia

Interesting information about Virginia’s demographic changes, and how unique northern Virginia is:

Northern Virginia stands out the most among Virginia’s regions, but this is not a new trend as Charles Grymes notes on Virginia Places:

“Northern Virginia has been “different” ever since Lord Fairfax established a land office issuing Northern Neck deeds independently from the colonial government in Williamsburg”

Our profile of Northern Virginia shows that over 54 percent of the region’s adult population has at least a bachelor’s degree, that is nearly 20 percent higher than any of Virginia’s other regions. Similarly, nearly three-fifths of Virginia’s population growth since 2010 has occurred in Northern Virginia.

From the Demographics Research Group at UVA.