As of very early Friday morning, the campaign finance reports for every candidate running for the Virginia House of Delegates became available on the Virginia Department of Elections site. After combing through these reports, we only have 3 changes as a result of the new data. We have an extra change as well not related to campaign finance reports which yours truly announced on Twitter: HD-66 is going from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican. You can read why this is here in the thread I wrote a few days ago.
- HD-51 | Lean D → Likely D
Delegate Hala Ayala, running for Lieutenant Governor, decided not to double-file in this Prince William County seat that has trended rapidly leftward during the Trump era. While the loss of incumbency originally made this seat a possibly easier pickup for Republicans, their recruitment efforts do not reflect any interest from the House Republican Caucus in flipping this seat they lost in 2017 back into their column.
Republicans have two candidates in this race, with one of them being a perennial carpetbagging candidate, Jeff Dove, and the other being Tim Cox. Both of these candidates had poor hauls for Q1, with Dove raising about $12K and Cox raising about $9K. Meanwhile, Briana Sewell, one of the strongest House of Delegates recruits Democrats have this year, had a pretty strong haul by comparison, raising a whopping $95K.
This seat was never essential to a Republican majority in the chamber, and the Republicans know it, so it’s no surprise there’s a lack of appetite for investment here. Still, due to the lack of incumbency and close race in 2017, we are not taking the seat off the board entirely, though we are moving it in the direction of the Democrats.
- HD-88 | Likely R → Very Likely R
This seat recently moved leftward when incumbent Mark Cole announced his retirement in this narrowly-won Trump 2020 seat. However, we’re moving it back rightward due to the Democratic candidate having basically no campaign.
The Democrat, Ashton Spencer, raised only $126 in Q1. Not $126,000. $126. It’s unlikely Spencer can build a campaign strong enough to have a shot at flipping this district, but we are going to err on the side of caution and keep it in the Very Likely R column for now in case he proves us wrong in the coming months.
- HD-96 | Very Likely R → Likely R
2019 Democratic nominee Dr. Mark Downey was an overperformer in his first run for public office compared to my expectations. Of course, doctors have proven to be strong candidates in Virginia, just ask Starla Kiser and Ralph Northam.
Downey raked in $39K in Q1, outraising incumbent Republican Amanda Batten, who raised just $8K. It’s likely that his campaign this time around will be stronger than his first run in 2019; Downey spent just $34K in his entire 2019 campaign according to vpap.org. He’s still a heavy underdog in this narrow Trump 2020 seat, but if this Democratic-trending seat in the northern suburbs of the Peninsula accelerates its trends (an unlikely scenario) and Downey does in fact have a stronger campaign than he did in 2019 (very likely), this seat could possibly flip.
As a result of these changes, here are our new odds and how they have changed since our last batch of rating changes in the Virginia House, almost exactly a month ago. You can find our 2021 Virginia House of Delegates forecast here.