First Look: Virginia 2021 Fundraising Numbers

Campaign finance reports for the close of books in 2020 were due two weeks ago in Virginia, and today we’re back with a first look at the fundraising numbers.* 

In today’s update, we’re focusing on the 21 districts that Democrats have flipped in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2017, as we expect these to be the most hotly-contested races this year. The table below shows current cash on hand numbers for the Democratic incumbents in those districts.

Given that Virginia has no campaign finance limits, races get expensive fast. Based on what we saw working with candidates in 2017 and 2019, we expect that each of these incumbents will need to raise at least $500,000 to run a competitive campaign. That means we’re only 10% of the way there to bringing each of these districts to the place where we can run a minimally viable competitive campaign.

Four of the candidates who have flipped districts are running for higher office, leaving open seats. Jennifer Carroll Foy resigned her seat and a special election was held in early January. The Democratic candidate, Candi King, narrowly won. We’re still treating this like an open seat (plus we don’t have updated campaign finance numbers) because Delegate King will need assistance to up her name recognition, and Republicans might spy an opening given the close results.

We’re also not including in this fundraising total opportunities for Democrats to flip districts blue. Those districts would also need at least $500,000 in funding, and likely more. In 2019, EveryDistrict invested in six flip opportunities where Democrats came up short: HDs 27, 62, 66, 81, 84, and 100. We’re closely eyeing these districts again in 2021.

If we add those six districts to the fundraising goal, we’re only 8% of the way there to making sure we hold and expand our majority.

Like all states, Virginia is supposed to redistrict before elections are held this year. The poorly-administered census has left a lot up in the air. Virginia typically has June primaries, with a spring filing deadline for candidates to jump into the race. Virginia to complete their maps by April 2 to hold the June primaries, and the census data was promised by April 1 at the latest. That was already an unrealistic timeline, but just this week states were notified that the data needed for legislative redistricting likely wouldn’t be available until July.

This leaves Virginia with two likely options: (1) hold August primaries, which would still be a tight turnaround time if the data is delivered in July, or (2) hold the 2021 election with the current map and a subsequent election under the new map.

It’s for this reason that we’re not looking at GOP opponents, Democrats running in open seats, or Democrats running to flip seats blue. Until we have a confirmed filing deadline, we won’t be able to fully evaluate the field and who is or isn’t a serious contender. Stay tuned, and we’ll continue to post updates on the blog as we learn more about redistricting and challenger candidates.

What can you do to make a difference right now? Make a donation to EveryDistrict here. Virginia prohibits Delegates from raising money during the legislative session, so our incumbents currently can’t raise any money while their opponents are free to take checks in any amount from whomever they please. Your donation will allow us to write early checks once the session is over to incumbents in districts we’re going to have to work hard to defend this year.

*A big thanks to our friends at VPAP who do an incredible job compiling this information in addition to a bunch more data about all things Virginia.