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Eight days out from the election, the Democrats' prospects for holding the state Senate remain as murky as they have been all year. The Republican money machine has come out in force, throwing millions of dollars at a dozen or so seats, so Democrats are finding themselves at a fundraising disadvantage in the home stretch. I wish I had some more quantitative factors to weigh other than money, but nobody will poll state senate races, so here we are. My final race rankings are below.

Senate

Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R
29th: Colgan/D
36th: Puller/D
37th: Marsden/D
1st: Miller/D
21st: Edwards/D
31st: open/D
39th: Barker/D
13th: open/R
17th: Houck/D
20th: Reynolds/D
38th: Puckett/D
22nd: open/R
Ratings Changes

6th (Ralph Northam - D) - Removed from the list - Northam is a fundraising machine, having entered the final month of the campaign with $321,000 in the bank. Loyola has struggled to find support; local Republicans have given him some money, but the big hitter (Bob McDonnell's Opportunity Virginia PAC) has kept Loyola at arm's length, instead favoring 1st District candidate Mickey Chohany with some big bucks. And, as I've said before, Loyola has no roots or base in the district. I think Northam will cruise to victory.

13th (open - R) - Moved from Lean Republican to Tossup - Republican Dick Black's primary win may cost the Republicans this seat. His fundraising has dried up, leaving him dependent on the Republican Party for help; they've chipped in about $185,000 in in-kinds in October. Democrat Shawn Mitchell has racked up a long list of endorsements, but it remains to be seen whether he can pick up enough support to win in this pretty Republican district.

21st (John Edwards - D) - Moved from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic - Republicans are heavily targeting this race; between the Republican Party of Virginia and Bob McDonnell's Opportunity Virginia PAC, $140,000 has been poured into Republican Dave Nutter's campaign account. Nutter's going to need that money to counteract his complete lack of appeal in the Roanoke part of the district (which he actually lost in the low-turnout primary), but if the Republicans are putting big money into this race, they must sense some kind of opportunity.

22nd (open - R) - Moved from Likely Republican to Lean Republican - Democrat Bert Dodson entered the general election with a big fundraising lead over Republican Thomas Garrett. Dodson will still have to overcome the district's Republican lean, however.

29th (Chuck Colgan - D) - Returned to the list at Likely Democratic - Republicans might be sensing an upset here; they've thrown in a good $300,000 for Republican Tom Gordy in the past month. I still think Colgan is heavily favored, but it may not end up a rout.

33rd (Mark Herring - D) - Removed from the list - Herring is looking like a lock to win re-election, given that he's got the same opponent as last time (who is struggling to raise money) and he's in a more favorable district.

House of Delegates

Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R
2nd: open/D
9th: Poindexter/R
10th: open/D
12th: open/D
64th: Barlow/D
87th: open/D
93rd: Abbott/D
34th: Comstock/R
94th: open/R
21st: Villanueva/R
67th: LeMunyon/R
99th: open/D
Ratings Changes

9th (Charles Poindexter - R) - Moved from Lean Republican to Tossup - This seat has been on my radar as vulnerable but leaning toward the incumbent, despite the massive piles of cash Democrat Ward Armstrong has had to spend. Now it's obvious Republicans are starting to panic: in October, they spent over half a million dollars on in-kinds for Poindexter. That's the kind of money you'd expect to be spent in Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads, not for a district in between Roanoke and Martinsville.

12th (open - D) - Moved from Likely Democratic to Tossup - Well, if you want to test whether money can buy an election, here's your chance. House Speaker Bill Howell's Dominion Leadership Trust PAC dumped $100,000 into Republican Joseph Yost's bank account, and the Republican Party of Virginia has chipped in another $104,000 of in-kinds. This is five times what Democrat Don Langrehr has raised for the entire year. They must smell blood in the water, or just want to drive Republican turnout in the precincts that overlap with the 21st Senate district, because otherwise this should be a fairly safe district, given that it's centered in Blacksburg.

13th (Bob Marshall - R) - Removed from the list - Stronger challengers than Democrat Carl Genthner have lost by double-digits to Marshall. I doubt this one will be close.

21st (Ron Villanueva - R) - Moved from Lean Republican to Likely Republican - Villanueva has a huge cash lead over Democrat Adrianne Bennett, and Bennett's biggest benefactor seems to be a relative.

31st (Scott Lingamfelter - R) - Removed from the list - A stronger challenger would have made Lingamfelter sweat. As it stands, I don't see Democrat Roy Coffey coming close.

34th (Barbara Comstock - R) - Moved from Tossup to Lean Republican - Comstock has spent an eye-popping $406,000 in the final month of the campaign. Democrat Pam Danner is struggling to keep up, with only about $132,000 in spending. Both have about $50,000 left in the bank. Danner's best shot is if Barbara Favola surprises everyone with a landslide win in the SD-31 race, since much of that district overlaps with the 34th.

42nd (Dave Albo - R) - Removed from the list - Democrat Jack Dobbyn is, from what I've heard, running a spirited campaign, but Albo has outraised him by a significant margin (and half of Dobbyn's money has come from one person in Alexandria, which makes me scratch my head). I don't expect an upset here.

93rd (Robin Abbott - D) - Moved from Lean Democratic to Tossup - Republicans want this seat. They've spent $250,000 on in-kinds for Republican Mike Watson in October alone. Abbott is going to need some strong coattails from John Miller to survive this kind of money assault.

Predictions

For the Senate, I wish I knew. I can't believe that Republicans will pick up no seats, given how much money they have and the general public unhappiness with government these days. My (optimistic) guess is a net +1 for the Republicans, by picking up the 20th and 38th, while losing the 13th.

For the House, I think the Republicans will net somewhere between 4 and 6 seats. I will be surprised if Democrats win more than one of the new NoVa seats (the 87th seems most likely to be a hold), and I expect Barlow or Abbott (or both) will go down. Meanwhile, Poindexter might lose, or Comstock if Democrats are really lucky.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You paint a pretty grim picture. (0+ / 0-)

    I'll be crossing my fingers.

    Thanks for the great diary.

    •  The VA GOP had most of the cards in... (0+ / 0-)

      ...redistricting. They played them as much as they could.

      If it's any consolation, later in the decade demography will catch up to them and Democrats will gain back enough seats to make control of either/both Houses possible.

      Occupy Wall Street AND K Street!!!!

      by Egalitare on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 07:29:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  everyone and anyone can help! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hilltopper

      organizing for America has got phone banks and other action to help RIGHT NOW in Virginia!   select a zip code of 22310 or 22309 to see activity for the last 7 days!   Republicans are going on air!    If you thought Wisconsin is bad wait till you see VA with a tea party crazy majority!  HELP

  •  By the way (11+ / 0-)

    I'm thinking of attempting a liveblog of the election results next Tuesday, since the regular election open threads tend to get hundreds and hundreds of comments and probably won't focus on Virginia. I've never done one before, so I don't know how well it would turn out, but I'd like to know if anyone would be interested in it, since there's little point if nobody bothers to comment on it.

  •  Isn't Toddy Puller likely to lose though? (0+ / 0-)

    I keep on hearing about how her new district is perfect for Jeff Frederick. Has anything changed there that makes her a solid favorite?

    Male, 14, TX-22 (previously TX-7)

    by SLDemocrat on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 06:49:39 PM PDT

    •  The districts is very Democratic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KingofSpades

      And she is the incumbent.

      Senate District 34:

      Obama 63%, McCain 36%
      Deeds 51%, McDonnell 49%

      •  It is the 36th senate district (0+ / 0-)

        not 34th!
        Clarifications dems had the senate redistricting upper hand and screwed the pooch!  Push toddy out of her solid cross supportive area in mount veron down into prince williams county.  While on paper supposedly into a more dem district but one that was quite new to the district and this is a very low turn out year....

    •  I don't think she's likely to lose (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DCCyclone

      Frederick used to hold a Dem-friendly House of Delegates seat that the new 36th overlaps with almost entirely, but he's managed to do a lot to alienate swing voters in the past few years. And it seems unlikely that a Democratic incumbent would lose a district that even Creigh Deeds won.

    •  She probably won't. (0+ / 0-)

      Not Larry Sabato did a post-primary analysis of this race.  See here.

      Frederick might outperform in the Prince William part of the district, but he'll probably lose big in the Fairfax County portion of the district, which is very Democratic and is Puller's base.  His performance in the Fairfax County portion of the district in the Republican primary was underwhelming.

      Also, in a district that includes Quantico, have the name "Puller" can only help.

      26, Male, Eurasian-American, Democrat, VA-11 (childhood, current residence), VA-09 (college)

      by Stargate77 on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 04:46:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good job. Go Shawn Mitchell and Dodson! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bfen

    I can't wait for DCCyclone to weigh in.

    'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.' -Mahatma Gandhi

    by KingofSpades on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 06:50:33 PM PDT

  •  RE: ObamaZombieBulletHoleMailerGate (0+ / 0-)

    Do think the Loudoun GOP mailer will have any effect?

    Fwiw, I'd guess the effect will be small and localized to Northern VA, if not Loudoun itself.  Even if it motivates less than 1000 voters though, it still might swing the 13th Senate district.

  •  Doesn't look so good (0+ / 0-)

    It's also not clear if the usual "bet in favor of the incumbents" advice should be live this year.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:18:51 PM PDT

  •  Something I missed while looking over... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sapelcovits

    financial reports: the Senate Democratic Caucus has given $200,000 to Brandon Bell, the former Republican Senator running against Ralph Smith as an Independent. This is quite possibly the biggest WTF I've seen this cycle. Why would they fund a guy who's not going to add to their majority when they have a ton of vulnerable seats?

  •  Does this article have anything to do (0+ / 0-)

    -8.88, -4.21 Why does the most beautiful place in the world (Idaho Panhandle) have to get dumped with thousands of Cali GOP doofuses?

    by Whitty on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 09:06:35 AM PDT

    •  I don't see Putney having any trouble (0+ / 0-)

      His district's Republican performance was eroded somewhat, but that just took it from extremely Republican to very Republican; they added Alleghany County and Covington, which are both Dem-friendly, but together they only make up about 1/4th of the district.

      Putney hasn't had anything resembling a close race since the 70s, when it was a two-seat district. His lowest percentage since the district became a single-seat district was in '09, when he got 64% against Medlin and a Constitution Party candidate (who got 15%, which should tell you how nutty that part of the state is).

  •  Reynolds and Puckett (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe you've written about it before and I missed it but why do you think they will lose their Senate seats?  Just because of the geography?  I'd say both are fairly popular plus Reynolds faces not only an R but also an I who is a former R opponent of his (who he destroyed in 07 when the district was more GOP).

    28, M, NC-13, formerly SSP user app state

    by Otis Campbell on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 12:35:18 PM PDT

  •  Great work by Johnny, but don't be surprised... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KingofSpades

    ...if a lot of his ratings are wrong...in both directions.

    The one thing Johnny said that's right on the money is how murky the picture is.

    I will share a little more information post-election that I don't want to share now, but suffice it to say that even for an activist (but I emphasize not insider) like me, information on what's really likely to happen on Tuesday is
    hard to come by.

    From what I've seen on our side, even a decently-funded campaign won't do more than a single baseline poll before any serious voter contact or messaging has begun, and then rely on good field and knowledge of the district's recent history to create a "win" number on turnout.  If a campaign is truly loaded, maybe they'll poll a second time closer to the election, but even Margi Vanderhye last time polled only once a couple months out despite raising and spending the most money of anyone in either party (I'm pretty sure she very slightly outraised Comstock.)  All this makes it hard to know for sure what's happening if you don't have access to the aggregate field canvassing data, which of course is hyper-valuable and very closely held.

    This being off-off-year, turnout data is very hard to come by.  I wish I knew what the absentee turnout data was saying right now, but I don't...that at least would tell something, even though it would be hard to interpret in any reliable way.

    I live in HD-34, the Comstock-Danner race, and I've done what I've could for Danner, both in money and time (more of the former than the latter this year, as child care obligations have overtaken me more than I expected).  I'm tempted to agree with Johnny's ranking, and if I had to bet all I have on picking the winner, I'd guess Comstock wins by single digits.  But a Danner win won't be a shock...maybe a very mild surprise, but still only very mild.  I do think higher turnout is better for us in this race, lower turnout is bad news.

    In SD-31, my state Senate district, I expect Favola will win, but not because of McLean.  I bet Favola runs up the score big in Arlington, and the McLean/Great Falls/Loudoun trio don't give Merrick the margin she needs to make up the difference.  Again if I had to bet all I have, I'd bet Favola wins by more than Comstock--if Comstock wins.  Fundamentals matter, and the fundamentals of HD-34 and SD-31 are that they are Democratic leans.  Toss in that there are few black, Hispanic, or young white voters, and the turnout disparity here usually isn't as great as in a locality where Democrats need a lot more sporadic voters to do well.  If Merrick wins next Tuesday, Dems are in for a very bad night.

    43, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and a boy, Democrat, VA-10

    by DCCyclone on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 05:50:35 PM PDT

  •  I am disappointed that Bennett (House 21) (0+ / 0-)

    has not gained some traction.
    She has already walked most of the district vs Ron has been a no-show to some candidate forums.

    Guess the GOP will keep their place-holder as Villanueva has done nothing in Richmond.

    There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it. ~Author Unknown

    by VA Breeze on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 09:00:29 AM PDT

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