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.