Veritium Political Insights
Preliminary Virginia House Map Destroys Spanberger’s VA-07, Creates New Blue District in NoVa
Although the newly proposed US House of Representative map in Virginia is not bad news for the Democratic Party, all three current female Democratic representatives will be disappointed with the proposal. The map was proposed by court-appointed special masters on Friday and is not final. Both Virginia’s old map and this preliminary draft are composed of 7 districts that voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and 6 districts that voted for Glenn Youngkin in 2021. The proposed US House map is extremely proportional and generally compact. However, critics complain that it juggles the composition of districts in Virginia, most notably splintering rising moderate star Abigail Spanberger’s VA-07 between 5 different new seats (the greatest portion of Spanberger’s VA-07 is now in the red VA-01, only 31% of the population she currently represents). If Spanberger wants to continue her congressional career, she may challenge a Democratic incumbent in VA-04 or VA-10 (which both contain about 20% of her current district) or else be forced to move to the new VA-07 in Northern Virginia (which is composed of less than 5% of her current district). The new VA-07 is an open seat, so if Spanberger chooses to move to the DC market she could be the early favorite in the race, albeit on new turf. It is important to consider Spanberger certainly was likely to lose re-election in her old district in 2022, which we rate as R+3.
Two other Democratic women would also see their standing harmed by the proposed map. Jennifer Wexton's VA-10 is split between 5 districts as well, although she does maintain 54% of her current district in the new VA-10, an awkward district that stretches from Loudoun County in NoVa all the way to Charlottesville. VA-10 moves from D+15 to D+5, and Wexton would surprisingly be locked in an intense fight for re-election in 2022 under the proposed map. Democrat Elaine Luria (VA-02) also sees her Virginia Beach-based district become even harder to hold under the proposed map, which moves from D+1 to R+3. Luria was notably cut out of the new VA-02 but only has to move a few miles east to remain in her district (she keeps nearly 65% of her old district). National Democrats will expect to lose VA-02 in 2022 under the proposed lines and will be pleasantly surprised if Luria can hold the seat, even under the more favorable 2020 lines.
The proposed map will most likely result in a congressional delegation of 6 Democrats and 5 Republicans in 2022, possibly deviating by a seat in either direction. This is better in the short term for Democrats than the old map, which most likely would have sent 6 Republicans and 5 Democrats to Washington in 2022. However, the proposed map makes it more difficult for Democrats to win a 7-4 majority in strong climates in the later portion of the decade. Virginia currently is represented in Congress by 7 Democrats and 4 Republicans.