Today I am going to be looking at three Virginia house districts in the Northern VA/DC Metro Area: VA HD 31, VA HD 40, and VA HD 51. These three districts all cover portions of Prince William County, with HD 31 also covering portions of Faquier County and HD 40 also covering parts of Fairfax County.
VA HD 31
VA HD 31 has been a moderately Democratic leaning district at the presidential level, with Barack Obama carrying it by a little more than 7 points in 2012, Hillary Clinton carrying it by a little more than 10 points, and Joe Biden carrying it by just under 15 points. Unlike a lot of the other suburban VA house districts, which were reliably Republican at the state legislative level pre-Trump, HD 31 was competitive, with Republican Scott Lingamfelter narrowly winning reelection here by just a percentage point in 2013 and by about 7 points in 2015. Democrat Elizabeth Guzman flipped the seat in 2017, defeating Lingamfelter by about a 10-point margin. In 2019, Guzman was reelected by a narrower 5.5 point margin, against Republican D.J. Jordan, in what was a closer than expected race. It seems that Jordan was a particularly strong Republican candidate, raising over $350K that cycle. Guzman’s 2021 Republican opponent, Ben Baldwin, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be nearly as strong a candidate as Jordan. (For comparison, Baldwin has raised about just $62K so far.) I’m classifying this district as Likely Democrat. Despite not having that great a showing last cycle, Guzman should be heavily favored this cycle, given that her Republican opposition seems to be considerably weaker. If Baldwin’s fundraising improves considerably, I could see the district becoming more competitive.
VA HD 40
VA HD 40 has trended heavily towards the Democrats in recent years, with Mitt Romney carrying the district by just under 4 points, but Clinton carrying it by about 11 points. In 2020, Biden considerably improved on the Dem margins, as he carried the district by nearly 25 points (at least according to Daily Kos Elections). At the state legislative level, HD 40 had traditionally been a fairly reliable Republican district, with Republican Tim Hugo winning by over 20 points in both 2013 and 2015. However, as with many other VA districts, HD 40 was seen as a decent pick-up opportunity for Democrats in 2017. In the end, the Democrats came up just short in the district (in 2017), with Hugo narrowly surviving by less than a percentage point, making it one of the few Clinton-won districts that the Republicans managed to hold on to. However, Democrat Dan Helmer was able to flip the seat in 2019, as he defeated Hugo by just under 5 points. Helmer should definitely be favored for 2021, considering how much the district has moved to the left and that he has the advantage of incumbency (unlike in 2019, when he was running against the Republican incumbent). Considering how well Biden did in the district, a rating as safe for Dems as Likely Dem might even be warranted. However, I am going to cautiously classify it as Lean Democrat, given that Helmer has a fairly strong Republican opponent this cycle, Harold Pyon, who has raised a decent among of money so far (about $235K.) The fact that Pyon is Asian might also be helpful for the GOP, given that Asians make up a fair percentage of the district’s population (about 18%, according to recent Census Estimates). Biden’s 25-point margin of victory in the district might also be an extremely generous estimate for the Dems, as another 2020 estimate, computed by Ryan Brune, has Biden winning the district by a considerably lower 14-point margin. (I have typically been ignoring Brune’s 2020 estimates, but since there was such a discrepancy between his estimate and DKE’s estimate, I thought it was worth pointing out in this particular district).
VA HD 51
VA HD 51 has traditionally been a moderately competitive/Democratic leaning district at the presidential level and has continued to move to the left, having gone from supporting Obama by just under 4 points in 2012, to supporting Clinton by a larger margin of almost 9 points, to supporting Biden by nearly 13 points. As in a lot of other suburban VA house districts, HD 51 flipped to the Democrats in 2017, with Dem Hala Ayala winning by about 6 points, against incumbent Republican Richard Anderson, who had previously won by just under 8 points in 2013 and had been unopposed in 2015. Ayala was reelected in 2019 by a slightly larger 9-point margin, in a rematch against Anderson. However, the seat is open this cycle, as Ayala is running for Lieutenant Governor. Briana Sewell and Tim Cox are the respective 2021 Democratic and Republican candidates. It should be noted that Cox has raised practically no money so far (he has raised less than $15K, in contrast to Sewell who raised over $200K), so it doesn’t seem as though the GOP is seriously contesting the seat, even though it is open. Given the disparities in fundraising, I’m classifying the district as Likely Democrat, easily favoring Sewell. As with HD 31, I could the see the district becoming more competitive if Cox’s fundraising improves (which doesn’t seem that likely).
Thanks to Daily Kos Elections (for the 2012, 2016, and 2020 calculations).