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Final House Assessment: Democrats Face Last Stand in Northern Virginia, Losses Downstate

by: Kenton Ngo

Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 03:30:33 PM EST

Last time we updated the rankings in mid-October, Creigh Deeds was only down 6-9 points, and downticket Democrats with a certain level of crossover appeal still had a shot. In the last two weeks McDonnell has expanded his lead, to the point where final polls indicate a 12 (MasonDixon) to 18 (SUSA) point victory. Democrats still lead the House generic ballot in Northern Virginia, giving Fairfax Democrats hope, but face a bloodbath downstate.

In a House of Delegates generic ballot, Republicans lead Democrats 48 to 39, with 13 undecided (Top-ticket is McDonnell 56, Deeds 42, Undecided 2). On the surface, this seems to indicate that while top-ticket Democrats are toast, some downticket Democrats still have a fighting chance with those 13% undecided. A generic House Democrat is running 3 points behind, and a generic House Republican is running 8 points behind. Broken down by region, this is the closest to a public poll of a House campaign we are going to get. I will go by area code with my thoughts on the relevant races. In general, I'm leaning towards incumbents in close races holding on.

(Note: Area code boundaries and House boundaries obviously don't mesh completely, so I've tried to put them where they are best located in the case of a split.)

Predicted Net Change: -2

Area Code 276
McDonnell 60
Deeds 38

House Democrat 48
House Republican 39

Predicted Net Change: 0

In Southwest Virginia Democrats have long held coal mining country thanks to influence from unions, and several Democrats still remain in the House of Delegates from this area (not to mention Rep. Rick Boucher (D-9th District)) despite widespread abandonment of the Democratic Party in presidential elections. It is unsurprising that local House Democrats are outpacing Creigh Deeds, indeed, the only area of the state where this would occur. Incumbency is a powerful thing.

3rd District
Del. Dan Bowling (D) is the only Democrat here facing a serious challenge. The clock is ticking for Democrats here, but not fast enough for Republican challenger Will Morefield. Morefield is slick, but Bowling's incumbency and his district's preference for local Democrats should let him through in a squeaker.

6th District
Just because Democrats lead the generic ballot in the area code doesn't mean Del. Annie Crockett-Stark (R) is likely to go down. Carole Pratt would have needed a huge Deeds wave to overcome Crockett-Stark, and it seems this won't be happening.

Area Code 434

McDonnell 59
Deeds 50

House Republican 56
House Democrat 34

Predicted Net Change: 0

14th District
Early on, we heard noise about former Danville Mayor F. Seward Anderson taking on Del. Danny Marshall (R). With Deeds taking a beating and  downticket Democrats doing even worse, Marshall, who might've gone down any other year, will probably hang on. Martinsville's unemployment rate is through the roof, and any candidate pounding the jobs meme (despite the limited effectiveness of any governor in that field) would do well--good news for Bob "A Jobs Governor" McDonnell.

23rd District
Delegate Shannon Valentine's (D) resources are so vast that she will likely survive a stiff Deeds headwind in her race against Scott Garett. 3 to 1 is no cash advantage to sneeze at.

57th District
It's too bad. Even with their State Senator, Creigh Deeds, as the Democratic nominee for Governor, it seems Del. Rob Bell is favored to win over underdog Cynthia Neff. Neff is a prolific fundraiser, with numbers that would dominate many districts, but up against a candidate with over $450,000 in the kitty it can only do so much.

Area Code 540
McDonnell 62
Deeds 34

House Republican 53
House Democrat 33

Predicted Net Change: 0

7th District
This highly-anticipated rematch between Del. Dave Nutter (R) and Peggy Frank seems to be flying under the radar like this race did in 2007. This time, Frank is finishing the final days with a slight ($7,000) cash on hand advantage. However, in 2007, Frank's upticket Senate race was doing far better than this year's upticket races. I'm not optimistic.

17th District
Gwen Mason (D) was always an underdog to win this Republican opens seat from the start, but the upticket collapse didn't help.

Area Code 703
McDonnell 50
Deeds 49

House Democrat 46
House Republican 44

Predicted Net Change: 0

Remember, 703 includes heavily Democratic Arlington and Alexandria--if one averages those areas with the rest of the area code and comes up with a virtual tie, that is awful news for Prince William and Loudoun Democrats, and it leads to a close fight in Fairfax.

The idea that Bob McDonnell will win the region as a whole is fatal to the Deeds campaign, which has always needed a double-digit margin out of here. As such, I expect more far-flung Democrats in Loudoun and Prince William to suffer, with Fairfax Democrats who otherwise would have won with comfortable margins only narrowly winning.

13th District
Del. Bob Marshall (R) disappoints Democrats every cycle by swatting away his Democratic challengers with ease. Unfortunately for John Bell, McDonnell's voters are Marshall's voters too.

32nd District
Unfortunately for Loudoun County Democrat Del. David Poisson, it seems doubtful the Deeds collapse is the result of hordes of Arlington and Alexandria voters suddenly flipping to McDonnell. Tag Greason might be a terrible candidate, but for Del. David Poisson, the Republican wave will affect him more than other incumbents due to his relative recency and lack of strong crossover. (Republican Pickup)

34th District
This one's been a toss up from the very beginning, but my gut says Del. Margi Vanderhye will pull it out ever so narrowly over Barbara Comstock. This has been one of the most expensive delegate races ever seen, with neither candidate obviously pulling away. Coinflip tomorrow.

42nd District
I'm totally biased here, as we all know, but Del. Dave Albo's (R) crossover magic has eroded faster. Since it seems that Creigh Deeds is still on pace to win in Fairfax, I think (hope?) Werkheiser will win in a squeaker. (Democratic Pickup)

51st District
Del. Paul Nichols has outraised and outspent his financially weaker opponent Rich Anderson, but with Bob McDonnell expected to win Prince William, it seems likely he'll drown in the wave. The 51st ran several points behind the neighboring 52nd for Barack Obama. (Republican Pickup)

52nd District
Luke Torian (D) isn't the best candidate or the strongest campaigner, but a straw-filled dummy comes into this district with a double-digit Democratic advantage. Torian should be fine picking up this Republican open seat. (Democratic Pickup)

67th District
With State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli riding a huge wave to victory, and Democrats only squeaking by in Fairfax County, it seems likely that Bob McDonnell will win the 67th. However, Democratic prospects in Fairfax have always been more solid than in the outlying exurbs, so I'm giving this to Caputo.

86th District
The 86th District's Democratic advantage is higher than in the 42nd, but Del. Tom Rust was mayor of Herndon for over 20 years, whereas Del. Dave Albo has no such strong community tie to a substantial portion of his district. If they haven't abandoned him by now, why would they this year? It'll be close, but Rust will ride the wave to the luckiest re-election of his career.

Area Code 757
McDonnell 54
Deeds 44

House Republican 43
House Democrats 37

Predicted Net Change: -2
Virginia Beach Democrats are facing a hometown landslide by Bob McDonnell that intensifies with each passing day.

21st District
Matheison seemed to be hanging on up until two weeks ago when McDonnell started pulling away. McDonnell's hometwon momentum will be too much, I'm afraid, to overcome. (Republican Pickup)

81st District
Same story here for Joe Bouchard. This race was even closer than Matheison's, but a McDonnell landslide knocks Democratic hopes down. (Republican pickup)

93rd District
Democrats snatched defeat from the jaws of victory here, with an incumbent Del. Phil Hamilton (R) wounded by an ethics scandal. It's never a good sign when a challenger like Robin Abbott skips out on candidate forums--they need the exposure and the chance to show up an incumbent.

Area Code 804
McDonnell 56
Deeds 43

House Republican 50
House Democrats 39

Predicted Net Change: 0

73rd District
Here's to hope that Tom Shields finds it in himself to run again. It was always going to be an uphill battle against well-funded Del. John O'Bannon, but with a McDonnell wave sweeping suburban districts it's hard to see how Democrats will pull this out.

Kenton Ngo :: Final House Assessment: Democrats Face Last Stand in Northern Virginia, Losses Downstate
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