Danville was home to a number of Democratic giants in the state legislature over the years, but when Whitt Clement left this seat in 2001 to run unsuccessfully for Attorney General a Republican was elected for the first time to represent this House district. That Republican- Danny Marshall- has won here ever since, now in his sixth term. Marshall was threatened with a GOP primary after his vote for the Warner tax plan in 2004- then survived a tough 51-49 challenge from Danville Councilman Adam Tomer in 2007. Other than those two blips, Marshall has cruised along here without much problem for the last decade plus.
House District #14 (map here)
52.9% of the vote in Danville City
27.9% of the vote in Pittsylvania County
19.2% of the vote in Henry County
2012 Major Party Election Results
Mitt Romney 18,971 (50.2%)
Barack Obama 18,828 (49.8%)
George Allen 19,080 (50.8%)
Tim Kaine 18,503 (49.2%)
Robert Hurt/Morgan Griffith 19,544 (54.3%)
John Douglass/Anthony Flaccavento 16,430 (45.7%)
(Broken down below)
Robert Hurt 17,833 (53.5%)
John Douglass 15,475 (46.5%)
Morgan Griffith 1,711 (64.2%)
Anthony Flaccavento 955 (35.8%)
NORTH CAROLINA****- The state the Presidential results most closely match with. North Carolina had a margin of 2.1% for Romney, while the 14th Delegate District of Virginia had a margin of 0.4% for Romney.
**** This district actually voted closer to Florida (0.9% margin for Obama) than North Carolina (2.1% margin for Romney), but we rate the districts for the Presidential winner that had the closest results, making it a "North Carolina" rating.
The entire City of Danville is in this district, and it was one of the most solid victories for Barack Obama in any locality in western Virginia. The vote in Danville- a 12,218-7,763 (61.1%) win for Obama over Mitt Romney- is roughly equal to the same percentage the President got in the state of California. Danville only makes up just over half of the district's population though, and Mitt Romney won solid victories in the Henry and Pittsylvania County portions of this district. In Henry, Romney's win was a 4,049-3,226 vote (55.7%) while Pittsylvania precincts here gave Romney a 7,159-3,384 (67.9%) victory. It's worth noting that this district shares Henry and Pittsylvania counties with the neighboring 16th district- and the GOP gave this district as many favorable precincts as possible to try to offset Danville. In Pittsylvania for example, these 14th district precincts voted 67.9% for Romney, while the precincts in the 16th district voted 61.8% for Romney. Once again, you see two districts packed into one here- with Danville voting like California, and Pittsylvania County precincts in the 14th voting like Oklahoma.
With Democratic falloff and picking up some crossover votes, George Allen was able to narrow the margin for Tim Kaine in Danville to a 11,840-7,902 (60.0%) vote. This makes Danville consistent with a number of other areas we have looked at with large African-American populations where George Allen overperformed the top of the GOP ticket. I know this is counter-intuitive to a lot of people, so it's worth repeating as it continues to happen. Meanwhile, in the more rural areas of this district in Henry and Pittsylvania counties, Tim Kaine outperformed the top of his ticket by small margins- also consistent with rural white voters across Virginia that saw some share of the Romney vote fall to Kaine.
Over 90% of this district overlaps with the 5th Congressional district, and Robert Hurt performed well here against John Douglass. Hurt was the top GOP vote getter in the Pittsylvania precincts with a 7,292-3,071 (70.4%), as well as being the top GOP vote getter in the Danville precincts which he lost by a 10,571-8,267 (56.1%) vote. The Henry County precincts here are split between the 5th and 9th, Hurt defeating Douglass in the 5th district Henry County precincts by a 2,274-1,833 (55.4%) vote and Morgan Griffith dominating the 9th district Henry County precincts in his win over Anthony Flaccavento 1,711-955 (64.2%). For Hurt in these Henry precincts that put him 3.4% ahead of Romney's vote in the same precincts, while Griffith was 2.8% ahead of Romney in his Henry precincts.
The most interesting thing going on in Danville is not just the huge Democratic margins in Presidential elections, but the way they have been exploding in recent cycles. Some have wrongly speculated that this all an "Obama effect" of African American turnout, but the numbers don't concur with that theory. This is a growing vote for all Democrats, with a boost from Obama- but not driven just by him. This surge has been going on longer than that. In the 2000 election, Danville voted for George W. Bush by 6.5%- while Bush won the state by a similar 8.1% margin- making Danville 1.6% more Democratic than the state as a whole. By 2004, John Kerry was winning Danville by 0.2% while Virginia went for Bush by 8.2%- making Danville 8.4% more Democratic than Virginia as a whole. You can see those margins between Danville and Virginia increasing before Obama came along and continued the trend. In 2008 Obama won Danville by 19.1%- while carrying Virginia by 6.3%- making Danville 12.8% more Democratic than Virginia as a whole. Finally, this year Obama won Danville by 22.2%- and carried Virginia by 4.0%- making Danville 18.2% more Democratic than the state as a whole.
If those numbers confused you here's a chart to make it easier:
2000- Danville 1.6% more Democratic than Virginia
2004- Danville 8.4% more Democratic than Virginia
2008- Danville 12.8% more Democratic than Virginia
2012- Danville 18.2% more Democratic than Virginia
What's happening in Danville is actually very similar to what is happening in Henrico County near Richmond, and Prince William County in Northern Virginia as well as many other localities in Virginia. For the last two decades the minority population in those areas has had a dramatically higher birth rate than the white population. What that creates is a "demographic tidal wave" as Sean Connaughton once called it. You can see it from looking at demographic stats of these school systems versus the senior populations in these localities. The babies from twenty years ago are now voters, and are starting to have their own kids that will be creating an even larger tidal wave in coming years.
It's worth noting that Democrats have yet to be successful in turning out those voters in many elections that were non-Presidential so far- with the exception of Tom Perriello in 2010 who got large turnout in Danville and was able to win a 16.3% margin of victory over Robert Hurt here even in the awful political environment of 2010 for Democrats. Compare that to the federal midterm from 2006- when George Allen narrowly defeated Jim Webb in Danville even with a strong national Democratic wind at Webb's back. With Perriello considering a run for Governor this year, Danny Marshall has got to be pulling for Democrats to stick with Terry McAuliffe for Governor- as this district could flip with Perriello on top of the ticket.
If Democrats can't get that surge of younger voters in Danville back to the polls, this district is pretty solidly in Danny Marshall's hands because of the Pittsylvania County precincts. His vote is pretty topped out in that area, but it will provide him with very stable and solid margins. This is one of those really interesting scenarios where Marshall really doesn't control his own destiny the way many of his colleagues do. All he can do is turn out his base in the rural precincts, and hope that the exploding margins for Democrats in Danville don't ever reach into the off year state electorates when he is on the ballot.
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 #8- Greg Habeeb (Arkansas)
House District #9- Charles Poindexter (West Virginia)
House District #12- Joseph Yost (Virginia)
House District #13- Bob Marshall (New Mexico)
House District #16- Don Merricks (Mississippi)
House District #28- Bill Howell (Florida)
House District #50- Jackson Miller (Michigan)
House District #51- Rich Anderson (Ohio)
House District #52- Luke Torian (Hawaii)