Our First Look: The Virginia House of Delegates

In a turn of events not seen since the 1980’s, each member of the Virginia House of Delegates will likely have to run for re-election three years in a row due to the chamber having to operate using the current district lines, which were drawn a decade ago. This trend began in 2019, when a quarter of the chamber had its lines redrawn by a special master after being struck down in federal court due to racial gerrymandering.

Without a shadow of doubt, Virginia is now a solid blue state. However, because of a lack of appropriate redistricting, ¾ the map abides by an outdated Republican gerrymander that overrepresents rural regions. Without redistricting, Republicans have a good shot at flipping the chamber back into their column this year.

However, even if Republicans happen to have a good night and manage to flip the chamber, 2022 will present a ripe opportunity for Democrats to flip it back. Regardless of what the redistricting commission draws, the new map will be much more favorable to Democrats than current one. 

We have this chamber as a pure Toss-Up, but that could change at any moment. Democrats have much more room to grow in our forecast due in large part to the competence of the Virginia Democratic Party in candidate recruitment and fundraising; something that the Virginia GOP lacks.

Republicans start out as slight favorites in two seats: HD-75 in Southside, a rural area trending Republican due to the area becoming increasingly white, and HD-83 in Virginia Beach, where Democrats ousted then-incumbent Republican Chris Stolle by only 41 votes while a deeply unpopular Republican president sat in the White House. With a Democrat in the White House now, regardless of popularity, it’s fair to say that Republicans are slight favorites in this seat given the previous margin of defeat and Stolle’s current comeback bid.

Districts 10, 28, 73 and 85, all Democrat-held seats won by 3-5%, start as Toss-Ups. These will be the deciding seats of the majority in the chamber, with the possible addition of District 12 in Blacksburg depending on upcoming enrollment at Virginia Tech and the quality of the Republicans’ choice of candidate.

Districts 12, 31, 50, 51, 63 and 72 start slightly favorable to the Democrats, earning them a Tilt D rating. Two of these seats are currently open and one may shortly follow suit, District 50, depending on whether or not Lee Carter becomes the Democratic nominee for Governor. If the Republicans happen to have a good night, these seats could feasibly flip into their column.

Districts 21, 27, 66, 40, 91 and 93 are Lean seats. Though they will not decide the majority, they will very likely be single-digit races if they are contested by major parties. Depending on candidate recruitment, some of these races may become more competitive.

Districts 2, 13, 81, 84 and 88 all sit in the Likely columns. Districts 2 and 13, Democrat-held seats, are likely going to become less competitive, while the remaining districts, all Republican-held seats, are likely to become more so.

In a nightmare scenario for Republicans, there is an outside chance that the Very Likely Republican seats of Districts 26, 62, 96 and 100 could flip to the Democrats. However, with President Trump out of office, this is highly unlikely. As it stands District 68 is in the Very Likely Democratic column, but if Republicans can manage to select a strong candidate (a skill at which, historically, they are not adept), they may be able to make this race more competitive.