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Three Virginia Races To Watch Early On Election Night

Since Virginia’s early voting ended last Saturday and Election Day is on Tuesday, November 8, many are wondering what surprises await us on Tuesday night as results start to pour in.

Historically, the party occupying the White House loses seats in the midterm elections. Since 2020, the Democrats have had a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives and a 50-50 Senate where Democrat Kamala Harris can break the ties. Thus, if the GOP can flip just one Senate seat and five House seats, they will control both chambers of Congress.

Polling can be imprecise and some suspect dishonest, but recent momentum seems to be shifting toward the GOP – especially among white suburban women, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and blue collar workers. Moreover, some polls indicate Democrats are losing support among a traditionally loyal demographic: black voters.  A big question now is, will the shift toward to the GOP, if genuine, be a red ripple? A red wave? Or a red tsunami?

Since polls close in Virginia at 7:00 pm and the Old Dominion is in the Eastern Time Zone, some of the earliest tea leaves to read may come from the Commonwealth.

Here in the Roanoke Valley, perhaps the most dramatic races involve those for Roanoke City Council, where 11 candidates — 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and 3 independents–are vying for 4 seats. However, among the three Congressional races in this western half of the state, there is no suspense as to the outcome.

Since Central and Western Virginia are for cultural, historic, and religious reasons generally conservative, and since the national Democrat Party has shifted further and further to the left, this part of the state is deemed to be a lock for Republicans in Congress.

The FiveThirtyEight polling group claims Republican Morgan Griffith has a 99% chance of winning re-election in the Ninth District, that stretches from the Tennessee/Kentucky line up to Cave Spring, Smith Mountain Lake, and Bedford County. Republican Ben Cline has a 99% chance of winning re-election in the Sixth District, that is anchored in the Roanoke Valley and parallels the I-81 corridor and Shenandoah Valley up to Winchester. Moreover, Republican Bob Good is given a 99% chance for re-election in the Fifth District. Due to redistricting, the Fifth, which used to cover most of Franklin and Bedford Counties, has now been shifted east. It sprawls from the North Carolina line across most of Central Virginia, including liberal Charlottesville, and up to the suburbs of Northern Virginia.

In contrast to predictable GOP wins here in the 6th, 9th, and 5th, there are three close or possibly close races to watch among Virginia’s eleven congressional districts.

Interestingly, all three are now represented by Democrat women who won their seats in the pro-Democrat/anti-Trump year of 2018. As elections begin to trickle in on Tuesday night, here are three Virginia races to watch which may be indicative of national trends.

VA-2: This is a typical “swing district” that often goes back and forth between GOP or Democrat wins. It represents the Eastern Shore, Virginia Beach and Norfolk. The big military vote there often leans Republican while the large black population votes heavily Democrat. The race is between incumbent Elaine Luria and GOP challenger Jen Kiggans. If Kiggans wins here but by a narrow margin, but Democrats hold the 7th and 10th, that might signal a national red ripple. The race is currently called a toss-up.

VA-7: Redistricting moved this district from the Richmond suburbs and much of Central Virginia to the Northern Virginia suburbs of Dale City, plus Fredericksburg, Stafford, Culpeper, and Orange. Incumbent Abigail Spanberger is facing challenger Yesli Vega, a GOP Latina. This too is currently a toss-up, but since part of the district includes NoVa, that may give the Spanberger an edge. A big Vega win here might indicate a red wave.

VA-10: This district, that covers much of the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia, is currently represented by liberal Jennifer Wexton and has trended more and more Democrat. Her challenger is Hung Cao, an immigrant who escaped with his family from Vietnam in 1975 to escape from communism. Seemingly desperate, Wexton has tried to label her GOP challenger as an extremist, but since Cao is a retired Navy captain with a decorated military career, it is unclear how effective Wexton’s attacks will be received. A Cao win here might signal a national red tsunami.

The Roanoke Star encourages active and informed citizenship, and encourages all members of our reading community to vote.

Voting across the Old Dominion will be from 6:00 am until 7:00 pm Tuesday, November 8.

-Scott Dreyer

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