There are two “up-for-grabs” Virginia congressional districts according to realclearpolitics.com, congressional district 5 and district 7. Although Hillary won the state of Virginia 49.8% to 44.4%, both Republicans won their congressional re-election bids handily in 2016.
In the 5th district, the Republican won by over 15% and 50K votes. Note, this year, Tom Garrett is retiring, so there is no incumbent. The poll on realclearpolitics.com has the Republican down by 1 point.
In the 7th district, incumbent Dave Brat also won by over 15% and 50K+ votes. Realclearpolitics.com’s latest poll shows Dave Brat is down by 1%.
Will the 2018 mid-term elections be a blue wave? My guess is that most of the pollsters are assuming (hoping) it will be and are polling people based on a blue wave model. For examples:
- In the Virginia 5th district, according to ballotpedia there are 51.6% women in the district, but the New York Times polled women at 57%
- The poll does not tell any break down on party id or who they voted for in 2016, but I am guessing those numbers do not reflect the population of the VA 5th district either
In the 7th district, the poll is lopsided as well:
- Republicans have had this congressional seat since at least 1996 and typically win it by large margins. Although I cannot find voter party id break downs, it is safe to assume that there are more Republicans in this district…this is Eric Cantors (previous R majority leader) old seat until he was primaried by Dave Brat.
So are the polls right and these are close races or are the pollster turnout models wrong? Well, lets see what early voting indicators show in Virginia:
Virginia provides the number of ballots returned, but not the party id of the person sending the ballot back. Grouping the ballots by geographical location (counties and cities) and comparing those locations to Trump and Hillary, we get the above charts. The “Hillary” bars are the number of absentee ballots returned in locations that Hillary won, so the assumption is that those are mostly Democrat votes. Likewise for the “Trump” bars.
Turnout in the locations Hillary won is down slightly over 2016 and it is up slightly in Trump won locations, suggesting that there is no blue wave and the voter base in this election (at least in Virginia) should be similar to 2016.
These two seats will be early alarm bells, voting in Virginia stops at 7PM Eastern (among the first to be done). If Republicans win these by decent margins it means all the polls “have it wrong” and we will see some very upset CNN hosts.