Bolling: Key Virginia Races To Watch on Election Day 2023

As Election Day approaches, these are the key races to watch. The outcome of these will determine the balance of power in the Virginia General Assembly.

I have listed the most competitive Senate/House districts, how the district performed on average in the 2021/2022 election cycles, and the geographical region of the district.

In the State Senate, the key races are:

Senate District 17 (+4% GOP) – Hampton Roads/Southside
Senate District 24 (+2% GOP) – Peninsula
Senate District 27 (+6% GOP) – Fredericksburg
Senate District 31 (+5% DEM) – Loudoun/Fauquier
Senate District 16 (+8% DEM) – Henrico
Senate District 22 (+9% DEM) – Virginia Beach
Senate District 30 (+5%) DEM) – Prince William County

If all these districts perform to form, Democrats would retain a 21-19 advantage in the State Senate.

For Republicans to take control of the Senate, they would need to hold Senate District 16 (Dunnavant v VanValkenburg) and pull an upset in one of the other competitive Democratic districts, i.e., SD 31, 22, or 30.

In the House of Delegates the key races are:

House District 21 (+1% GOP) – Prince William County
House District 22 (+5% GOP) – Prince William County
House District 57 (+1% GOP) – Henrico (Owen v Gibson)
House District 58 (+6% DEM) – Henrico – (Shaia v Willett)
House District 65 (+3% DEM) – Fredericksburg
House District 82 (+1% GOP) – Petersburg – (Taylor v Adams)
House District 89 (+3% GOP) – Chesapeake/Suffolk
House District 97 (+2% DEM) – Virginia Beach

If these districts perform to form, the House of Delegates would be split 50/50! But many of these districts could be very competitive, with the difference between winning and losing measured by just a handful of votes. It could go either way.

For Republicans to retain a majority in the House of Delegates they must hold all the districts that “lean Republican,” and they must also pull an upset in HD 58, 65, or 97.

For Democrats to regain a majority in the House of Delegates they must hold all the district that “lean Democratic,” and they must pull a couple of upsets in HD 21, 22, 57, 82, or 89.

Note that almost all the competitive races are in Virginia’s suburbs. This is where the political battle lines are most closely drawn. Rural districts will vote overwhelmingly Republican, while urban districts throughout the state, and most suburban districts in Northern Virginia will vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

The outcome of these races will likely depend on voter turnout, especially the strength of turnout in the base of the respective political parties.

That’s why Democrats seem to have been singularly focused on divisive issues like abortion. Democrats know that fear over so called “abortion bans” will drive Democratic voters, especially suburban women, to the polls.

Unfortunately, Republicans have not developed a defining issue like abortion to motivate their base. Democrats believe this could be the deciding issue in some of these close suburban districts. We’ll see.

It will be interesting to see how these districts perform on Election Day. Regardless of the outcome, you can count on this – it will be close.

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