The Virginia GOP’s Big Drag

It’s just one poll — a single, imperfect snapshot of a race taken more than five months before Election Day. Even so, the first data on Virginia’s 10th Congressional District race from Monmouth University is full of very bad news for Rep. Barbara Comstock (R), and possibly for her downstate GOP colleagues as well.

The headline shows Comstock 10 percentage points behind the lesser-known Democratic nominee Jennifer Wexton among “potential voters.”

The numbers get no better for Comstock when Monmouth slices the data in different ways: She’s down 9 percentage points based on a “historical midterm model” and 11 in a version “that includes a turnout surge in areas where Pres. Donald Trump is unpopular.”

Typically, an incumbent whose numbers are below 50 percent is in trouble. For an incumbent to trail by 9 to 11 percentage points right out of the gate? That’s downright depressing.

And it gets worse.

Wexton has a 9 percentage point lead among independents. More significant, and a sign of how damaging Comstock’s primary challenger was to her general election chances, Wexton has 97 percent support among Democrats. Comstock can muster only 85 percent support among Republicans, and Wexton gets 10 percent among Republicans.

That’s enough bad news for any candidate. But the hits keep on coming.

Wexton holds leads in the district’s population centers, 57-36 percent in Fairfax County, 48-39 percent in Loudoun and 46-37 percent in Prince William.

Add it all up, and throw in Comstock’s tenuous leads in Winchester and points west, and it looks like Comstock should start updating her resume.

But before Democrats prepare the victory party, they need to keep in mind that 59 percent of poll respondents had “no opinion” on Wexton. She’s still an unknown quantity, despite the competitive and costly Democratic primary.

That gives Comstock an opening. She’s raised roughly three times more money than Wexton — and she will raise much, much more. A lot of that cash will be used to define Wexton in voters’ minds. It won’t be pretty. Many Northern Virginia residents may be tempted to smash their TVs before it’s all done.

Exploiting Wexton’s limited name recognition will be Comstock’s best chance to survive.

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