Voters May Have an Unwelcome Surprise Waiting for Dave Brat

Virginia Democrats have had high hopes for 2018 since election night in 2017, when they swept the state’s top three offices for the second consecutive time and came whisper-close to taking the House of Delegates.

Those hopes are about to get even higher, and there’s a bit of data to back them up.

A new Wason Center poll shows Democrats leading Republicans in a generic ballot test 45 percent to 33 percent.

No surprise — the poll showed the president’s approval rating at 35 percent, which sounds bad enough, but at least he’s ahead of congressional Republicans, who managed just 28 percent.

It’s when the poll takes us to individual congressional districts that the numbers get really interesting.

When asked which party’s candidates they would vote for were the election held today, voters picked a generic Democrat in nine of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts. Only Republican Reps. Tom Garrett in the 5th and Morgan Griffith in the 9th have an advantage.

We should expect Democrats to do well in the seats they already hold: Bobby Scott in the 3rd, Don McEachin in the 4th, Don Beyer in the 8th, and Gerry Connolly in the 11th.

We should also expect Republicans to struggle in the 10th district, where Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock has been a Democratic target since winning her first term in 2014, and in the 2nd, where Republican Scott Taylor is a freshman defending his seat for the first time.

But there are two surprises: the 1st and 7th districts.

In the 1st Congressional District, Republican Rob Wittman should be a lock for reelection. In 2016, he carried the district with almost 60 percent of the vote, almost 7 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump.

This year, Wittman’s competition doesn’t appear formidable. His potential opponents have little money, and the 1st is not one of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s targeted contests.

But if the generic numbers from the Wason poll are at all accurate, perhaps it should be. In the 1st, voters prefer a Democrat to a Republican 51 percent to 30 percent. And in their preference for which party voters want to control Congress after the November election, the gap widens to 59-32.

Continue reading here.