GOVERNOR: Likely Democratic
This should be an easy race to call early in the night. This election is a referendum on Ken Cuccinelli- and while some polling (like last nights PPP poll) show that Cuccinelli has been successful in raising Terry McAuliffe's negative ratings higher, he has not been successful in getting those voters to support him. Based on the polling averages, no Governor's race in America has featured two candidates with higher combined negatives since the famous "Lizard vs. the Wizard" campaign in Louisiana in 1991. Cuccinelli was successful in making McAuliffe a lizard as well in the eyes of the public, but he never could break his own negative rating from social issues and the Lizard will beat the Wizard again- this time in Virginia in 2013**.
**- I don't think either candidate is a Lizard or a Wizard- but just reporting on how the public views them at the end of this campaign.
LT. GOVERNOR- Safe Democratic
In a Senate currently divided 20-20, this campaign was supposed to be a fight for the tie breaking vote and control of the Senate. Instead, Republicans basically gave up on their nominee as soon as the convention was over- and now their hopes of hanging on in the Senate require winning a special election for Ralph Northam's seat in the Senate- or winning Mark Herring's seat if he is successful in the AG race. It's hard to imagine what E.W. Jackson could have done differently to win- with his past public statements he just was not electable in Virginia. Remarkably, despite his easy win- one of the big losers in this campaign is Ralph Northam. He's virtually anonymous other than being the guy running against Jackson and blew a huge chance this year to lock down the Democrats before he runs for Governor in 2017.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: Toss Up
Both candidates for Attorney General were strongly favored to win their party's nominations this spring, and both barely survived to make it to the general election. For once, the Republican decision to have a convention may actually be helping their candidate. Mark Obenshain has a statewide organization at the precinct level that is out working for him- while Mark Herring is left with having to try to ride the wave of the rest of his ticket without many people working for just him. The wave is big- if McAuliffe wins by 8%, if you take out the majority-minority precincts that tend not to have large downballot swings- then Obenshain will need 10-12% crossover in every suburban area in the state- Fairfax, Henrico, Virginia Beach, etc. That's a huge number to overcome, so Obenshain is watching the top of the ticket closely to see if Cuccinelli will stay close enough to give him a shot. In fact, Herring could even pull away by a few points if the wave gets large enough. But if Obenshain emerges as the only GOP candidate to survive this election- it all comes down to his organization at the precinct level across Virginia.
FAIRFAX SHERIFF- Likely Democratic
The Fairfax County/City Sheriff represents more people along with the two other courthouse officers than any other political office in Virginia other than statewides. This will make Stacey Kincaid one of the most prominent female elected officials in Virginia after she easily dispatches Brian Wolfe tomorrow.
HOUSE OF DELEGATES OVERVIEW
Current House: 68 members of GOP Caucus, 32 members of Dem Caucus.
A couple of notes are important here. Over the last two decades, Democrats have only defeated five GOP incumbents in the House of Delegates. Many incumbent GOP Senators have lost in the same time frame, and many open seats have changed hands, but Democrats have not had much luck against GOP incumbents in the House. A lot of that is driven from smaller districts where voters know the incumbents well.
Of the five GOP incumbents who lost- three (Rust 2001, Welch 2007, Hamilton 2009) were unopposed in the election before they lost- giving them a big drop in name ID. The other two were flukes- Tom Bolvin represented the 11th most Democratic seat in the state and beat Mark Sickles despite a 24 pt win upballot in 2001 before eventually falling in 2003 and Dick Black lost in 2005 because he's nuts. So there haven't been a lot of GOP incumbents falling because of bad environments.
That means a big Democratic pickup would be historic- but it also means it is unlikely to be a large scale sweep in House of Delegates races. Here's where we rate them all going into election day...
In order of most likely to switch party control:
#1- 4th District- Safe Republican (Pickup)
This seat was held by Democrats for decades, and is now going to the GOP without even a Democratic candidate running on the ballot. So when you are calculating numbers in your head, remember while we start 68-32, it really starts 69-31 because of this seat changing hands. Ben Chafin takes over here in January.
#2, #3, #4 Pure Toss Up Races (no particular order)
6th District- Jeff Campbell vs. Jonathan McGrady
This seat in southwest Virginia was the only one Democrats led in before the shutdown wave began in October. It's also the only seat where the momentum has been in the other direction for the last month as this seat is a strongly GOP area and McGrady's early support was mostly from crossover voting. Can McGrady hang on and eke out a win or will the GOP district end up back where they should be with normal party performance? This is one of the few close districts that will be carried by Ken Cuccinelli upballot.
87th District- Del. David Ramadan vs. John Bell
This is a matchup of two weak candidates. Bell, who was crushed by 20+ points by Bob Marshall in 2009 is back, but Ramadan is by far the weakest GOP incumbent in the state in terms of likeability. This seat should be slighly leaning dem at this point, but Ramadan has been smart to be focused on local issues with the Greenway. This is a must win for Democrats if they want a big pickup in the House.
93rd District- Del. Mike Watson vs. Monty Mason
Williamsburg has long been represented by Democrats, but in 2011 under an influx of GOP money and without a natural incumbent (Robin Abbott moved here from a neighboring seat) Republicans were able to get a win with tiny margin. Now facing a Governor's year turnout, increased student engagement and with an incumbent that has failed to distinguish himself in any way, the Republicans are on the defensive here big time. Another must win for Dems to have a big night.
#5, #6, #7, #8, #9 Slight-Lean Republican (no particular order)
(These seats will decide the size of the Democratic pickup to a large extent. They may all go in the same direction if the wave is large or small tomorrow).
2nd District- Del. Mark Dudenhefer vs. Michael Futrell
This district was barely targeted by Dems until late in the cycle. Both sides think Dudenhefer heads into election day with a margin around double digits, but demographics here have half of the district in Prince William precincts that are more Democratic than even Arlington or Alexandria. If those precincts turn out at the same levels of the rest of the district (they usually do not in state elections) this one could fall quickly on election night. If they don't, the Democrats don't have a shot.
33rd District- David LaRock vs. Mary Daniel
This is the most solidly GOP district in Northern Virginia after redistricting, but when LaRock unseated longtime incumbent Joe May in the June primary the state Dems were presented with a once in a generation opportunity. Mary Daniel has run one of the best campaigns this cycle and May has even appeared in her mailings (without a formal endorsement). In a lot of ways you could argue this is the most important race to watch on election night because the other districts could flip in two years- but a LaRock win here likely makes this safe GOP for another decade or two, while a Daniel win gives Democrats their biggest pickup behind enemy lines since Albert Pollard did it on the Northern Neck.
34th District- Del. Barbara Comstock vs. Kathleen Murphy
The Democratic Caucus had left Murphy for dead this summer when polling showed her down 20 points. But then the shutdown happened. This district- especially in McLean and Great Falls are full of rich federalites who love the GOP for low taxes and hate the GOP for this kind of crazy behavior. After the creation of single member House districts, the only time longtime incumbent Vince Callahan ever ran under 60% of the vote in this area was in 1995 after the first GOP federal shutdown when he fell all the way to 53%. The same has happened here this year as Comstock's lead collapsed during the shutdown. Last year this district actually had a raw vote tie, not just in percentage but in actual votes between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on election day. Obama won the Loudoun side, Romney the Fairfax side. So watch Loudoun carefully when returns come in here- Murphy must win with enough margin to offset Comstock's likely win in the Fairfax precincts. If this comes down really close on election night, watch out for Fairfax absentees- they always do very well for Democrats.
86th District- Del. Tom Rust vs. Jennifer Boysko
Rust has held this seat since it was created in 2001 and was Mayor of Herndon for quite some time before he went to the House of Delegates. But he's never faced a challenger as energetic or well funded as Boysko. It will be hard to create a Democratic majority here without winning the Town of Herndon- where Boysko and Rust both live- so watch those precincts on election night to see where this district is headed.
94th District- Del. David Yancey vs. Rob Farinholt
This was a safe GOP seat when Glenn Oder represented it, but has become a battleground with a much less popular David Yancey. The precincts here mix in some precincts from the old 93rd district, which tossed a GOP incumbent in 2009 so some precincts here have already shown a willingness to show a Republican to the exit doors of the Capitol. Farinholt isn't the strongest challenger, but his local ties and firefighting career (who doesn't like firefighters?) give him a chance to win here with a wind at his back- which he has.
#10, #11, #12, #13, Leans Republican (no particular order).
12th District- Del. Joseph Yost vs. James Harder
Before 2011 it was unimaginable for most Democrats that Blacksburg could fall to the GOP. Now, if Democrats don't win this year it is suddenly hard to see how they will win it back anytime soon. Joseph Yost is the most politically savvy of the House GOP freshman. On the contrary, James Harder has not performed well for Democrats on the campaign trail including a major misstep with mailings that even had the liberal Roanoke Times up in arms. However- this race remains interesting because of the large student vote on campus at Virginia Tech and Radford, both of which are in this district. If they show up tomorrow, Harder could pull a big upset and his win would likely mean a large Democratic pickup statewide.
13th District- Del. Bob Marshall vs. Atif Qarni
The Republicans stuffed a number of Dem leaning precincts into this district in the redistricting hoping to finally be finished with Marshall. Instead, he won easily. This time Qarni is putting up a better fight, but is highly unlikely to prevail on election day. The big question is- how close can he get and will that draw a stronger challenger in 2015? Also- who will be more annoyed with another Marshall term- the Republican leadership or Democrats for blowing it here again?
51st District- Del. Rich Anderson vs. Reed Heddleston
After redistricting this is a much improved seat for the GOP- but Heddleston is probably the best Democratic candidate in Northern Virginia this year in terms of resume. He's put up a good fight with Anderson this year, but the seat's performance and Anderson's hard work on the doors over the last four years give him the edge going into election day.
85th District- Scott Taylor vs. Bill Dale
This district was host to the nastiest GOP primary in VA this year, which raised Democratic hopes of a pick up in November. But Bill Dale has been nearly invisible- and his name ID is the lowest of any targeted candidate in the state according to some advocacy polling. You can't win if no one knows who you are- so unless the GOP wounds are even deeper than we know, Taylor has the upper hand today.
Likely and Safe Two Party Races:
14th District- Del. Danny Marshall vs. Gary Miller (Likely GOP)
21st District- Del. Ron Villanueva vs. Susan Hippen (Likely GOP)
22nd District- Del. Kathy Byron vs. Katie Cyphert (Likely GOP)
31st District- Del. Scott Lingamfelter vs. Jeremy McPike (Likely GOP)
32nd District- Del. Tag Greason vs. Elizabeth Miller (Likely GOP)
78th District- James Leftwich vs. Linda Bryant (Likely GOP)
82nd District- Bill DeSteph vs. William Fleming (Likely GOP)
84th District- Glenn Davis vs. Brent McKenzie (Likely GOP)
37th District- Del. David Bulova vs. Patrice Winter (Likely DEM)
41st District- Del. Eileen Filler-Corn vs. Fredy Burgos (Likely DEM)
75th District- Del. Roslyn Tyler vs. Al Peschke (Likely DEM)
3rd District- Del. Will Morefield vs. James O'Quinn (Safe GOP)
7th District- Del. Nick Rush vs. Mike Abraham (Safe GOP)
10th District- Del. Randy Minchew vs. Monte Johnson (Safe GOP)
16th District- Les Adams vs. Elizabeth Jones (Safe GOP)
17th District- Del. Chris Head vs. Freeda Cathcart (Safe GOP)
18th District- Del. Michael Webert vs. Colin Harris (Safe GOP)
19th District- Terry Austin vs. Lewis Medlin (Safe GOP)
30th District- Del. Ed Scott vs. Traci Dippert (Safe GOP)
40th District- Del. Tim Hugo vs. Jerry Foltz (Safe GOP)
42nd District- Del. Dave Albo vs. Ed Deitsch (Safe GOP)
50th District- Del. Jackson Miller vs. Richard Cabellos (Safe GOP)
55th District- Buddy Fowler vs. Toni Radler (Safe GOP)
60th District- Del. James Edmunds vs. Jasper Hendricks (Safe GOP)
65th District- Del. Lee Ware vs. William Quarles (Safe GOP)
67th District- Del. Jim LeMunyon vs. Hung Nguyen (Safe GOP)
88th District- Del. Mark Cole vs. Kathleen O'Halloran (Safe GOP)
35th District- Del. Mark Keam vs. Leiann Luse (Safe DEM)
53rd District- Marcus Simon vs. Brad Tidwell (Safe DEM)
71st District- Del. Jennifer McClellan vs. Matt Fitch (Safe DEM)
95th District- Del. Mamie BaCote vs. John Bloom (Safe DEM)
UNOPPOSED: 33 GOP, 24 DEM *** Major party only
SAFE RATING: 16 GOP, 4 DEM
Total Safe: 49 GOP, 28 DEM
Likely Seats: 8 GOP, 3 DEM
Likely or Safe: 57 GOP, 31 DEM
Leans: 4 GOP, 0 DEM
Slight-Leans: 5 GOP, 0 DEM
Toss Up: 3 seats