Despite Virginia Democrats boasting better numbers in yesterday’s campaign finance reports than their Republican opponents, The Virginia House of Delegates has become a Toss-Up once again. There are three reasons for this.
- President Biden’s approvals have tanked since we last updated our forecast for this highly competitive state legislative chamber on July 16th; his net approval was +8.5 points in our last update, whereas he is underwater now with a -3.3 net approval, per the FiveThirtyEight Biden approval tracker.
- Weak Democratic campaigns in seats that were technically within reach for a flip to Democrats but are no longer.
- Republican campaigns ramping up their operation in Democratic territory since our last update.
Most of the rating changes we’re making in the Virginia House favor Republicans, however, there are two bright spots for Democrats with a single rating change toward them. First is District 27 in Chesterfield County, where incumbent Roxann Robinson (R), who won by the skin of her teeth in both 2017 and 2019, will likely have another close call election against Debra Gardner (D) who has built a fantastic campaign operation. This seat is moving from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican. Next is District 21 in Virginia Beach, where incumbent Kelly Convris-Fowler (D) is facing a lackluster campaign from her Republican opponent, Tanya Gould (R), despite having a strong profile. This seat is moving from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic.
In Democratic territory where Republicans have built stronger campaigns for themselves over the past two months, we have District 72 in Henrico, District 40 in Fairfax and Prince William, and Districts 83 and 85 in Virginia Beach. These will be single-digit races, with the 83rd or the 85th being the closest. District 40 will be moving from Lean Democratic to Tilt Democratic, Districts 83 and 85 will be moving from Tilt Democratic to Toss-Up, and District 72 will be moving from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic.
Some Democratic campaigns have fallen so flat in several districts that may have been winnable for them if there were either enough investment or a stronger operation, but with less than 50 days from the election, it’s just not feasible for things to turn around for Democrats in the following seats: 81 in Virginia Beach, 96 on the Peninsula, and 100 in Norfolk and the Eastern Shore. All of these districts are being moved to Solid Republican. Democrats have also seen their stance in District 84 in Virginia Beach weaken as it becomes unlikely for this narrowly-carried Biden district to flip with the campaign Kim Melnyk (D) has built for herself against incumbent Glenn Davis (R). As a result, District 84 moves from Lean Republican to Likely Republican.
In total, we have two rating changes in the Democrats’ direction and eight changes in the Republicans’ direction. As a result, the Virginia House moves back into the Toss-Up column, with Democrats as very slight favorites in our odds at 52.91%.