Our series has now completed most of southwest Virginia, and the last two districts we looked (7th and 12th) are the districts based in the New River Valley. Today we are taking a look at the 8th district, which begins in the New River Valley, but moves across the mountains and has its population base in the Roanoke Valley. This is the seat that includes the entire City of Salem and was Morgan Griffith's seat in the House of Delegates before he was elected to Congress. After Griffith's election, Greg Habeeb easily won a special election to replace him in Richmond.
House District #8 (map here)
45.5% of the vote in Roanoke County
29.3% of the vote in Salem City
18.8% of the vote in Montgomery County
6.3% of the vote in Craig County
2012 Major Party Election Results
Mitt Romney 25,610 (62.3%)
Barack Obama 15,497 (37.7%)
George Allen 24,788 (59.8%)
Tim Kaine 16,669 (40.2%)
Morgan Griffith/Bob Goodlatte 27,007 (65.9%)
Anthony Flaccavento/Andy Schmookler 13,990 (34.1%)
(Broken down below)
Morgan Griffith 19,016 (64.2%)
Anthony Flaccavento 10,602 (35.8%)
Bob Goodlatte 7,991 (70.2%)
Andy Schmookler 3,388 (29.8%)
The 8th district has some really unique areas included in its boundaries, but they all have one thing in common- each one is strongly Republican. Just under 20% of the population is in Montgomery County in the New River Valley- and that is the only place in this district where Barack Obama even broke 40% of the vote. His loss there was 4,367-3,379 to Mitt Romney or 43.6%. On the Roanoke Valley side of this district, Salem- the home of Morgan Griffith and Greg Habeeb- is the most Democratic of the two localities- with a margin of 7,299-4,780 for Romney or 60.5%. Roanoke County was an even bigger landslide for Romney with a vote of 12,087-6,528 for Romney in this district- or 65.4%. Finally there is Craig County- a small rural county just north and west of Roanoke on the West Virginia state line- that voted 1,757-830 for Romney or 67.9%.
Tim Kaine outperformed Barack Obama in every county- with larger crossover in the Roanoke Valley. Kaine ran 2.4% ahead of Obama in Montgomery and 1.4% above Obama in Craig County. In the Roanoke Valley, Kaine was 2.7% ahead of Obama in Salem, and had 3.1% net crossover in Roanoke County. These crossover numbers were enough to tip Kaine over the 40% mark districtwide, at 40.2%. George Allen once had a lock on this area, but now he runs on the bottom of the GOP ticket here.
In contrast, the local U.S. House candidates not only held the GOP Presidential vote, but won some crossover Democrats for themselves. Only in Craig County was Morgan Griffith's 1,774-835 (68.0%) win similar to Mitt Romney's 1,757-830 (67.9%) win. In the Montgomery side of the district, Griffith won a 2.9% crossover above Romney's vote- or 4.3% above Allen. In his home city of Salem (added to the 9th district in redistricting so Morgan would live in his district) there was a 3.4% crossover for Griffith above Mitt Romney or 6.1% above George Allen. Finally, in Roanoke County, Griffith won a 2.8% crossover above Romney, or 4.9% above Allen. Meanwhile in the Roanoke County precincts that overlap with this district Bob Goodlatte broke 70% of the vote with a 7,991-3,388 (70.2%) vote. That was a 5.4% crossover for Goodlatte over Romney and a 9.0% crossover for Goodlatte over Allen.
What you can see from these results is there are two totally separate groups of crossover voters in this district. First, there is a large block of Democrats voting for Obama/Kaine/Griffith or Obama/Kaine/Goodlatte. Those nationally blue leaning voters are willing to vote for Republicans they know closer to home. Meanwhile there is a block of Republicans voting for Romney/Kaine/Griffith or Romney/Kaine/Goodlatte. It's impossible to tell without exit polling if this is a positive vote towards Kaine, or a negative vote towards Allen, but I would guess it is the latter.
While there are lots of ticket splitting voters here, the area is still very solidly Republican. Greg Habeeb is just about the perfect fit for this district as it was redrawn. He lives in Salem, works in the City of Roanoke, and went to high school at the local school in Montgomery County that is located in his district. Certain districts really fit a candidate like a glove, and that's the case here with the 8th district and Habeeb.
Previous Districts Covered
House District #1- Terry Kilgore (Utah)
House District #2- Mark Dudenhefer (Delaware)
House District #3- Will Morefield (Utah)
House District #4- Joe Johnson (Wyoming)
House District #5- Israel O'Quinn (Wyoming)
House District #6- Anne Crockett-Stark (Oklahoma)
House District #7- Nick Rush (Kansas)
House District #12- Joseph Yost (Virginia)
House District #13- Bob Marshall (New Mexico)
House District #28- Bill Howell (Florida)
House District #50- Jackson Miller (Michigan)
House District #51- Rich Anderson (Ohio)
House District #52- Luke Torian (Hawaii)