Virginia, Election Night 2019: What to Watch Guide

Breakfast update @ 10:00 AM

It was a late night, so we’re eating breakfast a little late today. As of 10:00 am, there’s still a little bit of vote out in certain places but not enough to affect any of the outcomes. Here are the key highlights:

Larry Barnett (HD 27) and Debra Rodman’s (SD 12) races have been called for their opponents with 100% of the vote in now. Larry is behind by 191 votes, and Debra is behind by 1,518 votes. Cheryl Turpin is behind by 514 votes in SD 7. Nancy Guy’s 18-vote lead in HD 81 has held, but with all of these close races it’s quite possible we’ll see a few recounts. 

But here’s the bottom line: we turned Virginia blue! Thank you all for your incredible support and everything you did to help our candidates and make this victory possible. Two years ago when Democrats faced a 17-seat deficit in the House, flipping the legislature blue seemed impossible. Yesterday, you did it. Onward!

Just kidding, we’re not asleep yet @ 11:45 PM

VPAP has an update that gives Nancy Guy an 18-vote lead in House District 83. Right now she is the unofficial winner, and if this flip holds that would mean a six-seat gain for Democrats in the House.

Bedtime in Richmond @ 11 PM

This is our final Virginia update of the evening. Let’s start with the incredible, exciting, awesome news: Democrats now control both chambers of the Virginia legislature for the first time in over a decade! They have a real sizable majority in the House in particular. 

Now, what is still lingering:

We’ll send you a note with your breakfast to confirm what happened.
Congratulations to EveryDistrict-endorsed new legislators: Ghazala Hashmi, John Bell, Josh Cole, Dan Helmer, Clint Jenkins, Martha Mugler, and Shelly Simonds!

There but for Fortune @ 10:15 PM

We are getting into the part of the night where different organizations are in different places when it comes to making calls. We’ve just called it for Dan Helmer, our guy in HD40, but we’ll wait on some more. So, let’s talk about the Senate.

Will give you a House update in 15 minutes.

Getting Tight @ 9:45 PM

This is the part of the night where things get W E I R D. 

First, Debra Rodman, who had been leading all night…turns out there was a typo. She is now down 400 votes. The 4 remaining precincts are GOP strongholds, so it will come down to the 4,000 absentees. 

For some reason, the Hampton Roads region has decided not to count votes tonight. Now that some votes are trickling in, here’s the Senate story:

Missy Smasal has a tiny lead in SD8, while Cheryl Turpin is just trailing in SD7. Democrats still have a good shot to win 5 of the 6 top races, but it’s going to be awhile till we know what’s what.

On the House side, let’s start with defense. All incumbents appear safe and the two open D seats in competitive districts (HD73 and HD85) both have Democrats leading. So, we’re doing well there.

On the offensive side, we will talk about some of the unfortunate losses another time. With four confirmed wins, here’s what’s still out and competitive.

So, the upside we’re looking at in the House is a +7 pickup. Think good blue thoughts.

Top of the Hour @ 9:00 PM

I like the British system where they wait until all the votes have been counted and then tell you who won. Much better for the blood pressure.

Luckily, we now have enough votes that a story is becoming clear in the House. Democrats had already picked up HD91 and HD94, two EveryDistrict-supported candidates. Now, two more EveryDistrict candidates have won: Josh Cole in HD28 and Clint Jenkins in HD76. Democrats are leading in HD81, which is a bit surprising. Still a bunch more votes out there.

On the defense side, most vulnerable incumbents have turned the corner from earlier in the night. However, HD21 and HD85 are still exceptionally close. Precinct-by-precinct, these districts can be very jumpy. So, still some unexpected things could happen. But here’s big news: 

Barring something crazy happening, Democrats will carry the Virginia House of Delegates. 

Now let’s see if we can run up the score. 

Around the Horn @ 8:30 PM

Here’s a House call: Shelly Simonds, an EveryDistrict-endorsed candidate, has won in House District 94. 

Here’s another one: Martha Mugler, an EveryDistrict-endorsed candidate, has won House District 91. Democrats have gotten enough pickups to win a majority, but there’s some defense to play and a lot more on the board. 

Full number crunch update below. 

It’s Race-Calling Time @ 8:15 PM

We have our first call of the night for our challengers. John Bell, running for Senate District 13, has won. Democrats will have at least split control of the Senate.

Another one of our challengers, Ghazala Hashmi, is well ahead in Senate District 10 and Debra Rodman in Senate District 12 continues to maintain a solid lead.

We are projecting that Democrats have won an outright majority in the Virginia State Senate. 

Still a lot more to come in the Senate and in the House. But some clear good news here.

It’s Top of the Hour to You @ 8 PM

The quality of the data is a mess–precinct information is all over the place. But some signs of direction are emerging.

Democrats are holding well with a good amount of vote in for three of the top Senate Districts (10, 12, and 13). Night is starting to look clearer there and might be approaching a call for control for the Democrats.

The House is all over the place. A few Democratic incumbents look vulnerable, notably Lee Carter in HD 51. Other challenges, like Shelly Simonds in HD 94, are doing well as results continue to flow in. Need to see more data, but things are still promising overall for Democrats.

Smattering of Votes Update @ 7:45 PM

In the last 45 minutes, some votes have come in. And VPAP and the Virginia Department of Elections have crashed. It is a bad night for several IT people already. 

Who might it be a good night for?

John Bell, in SD13, is up 52-48% with about one-third of the votes in. That is a top Senate pickup.

Shelly Simonds, in HD94, is up 81-17% with one Newport News precinct in. 

Update @ 7:30 PM

Our first results are in. Check out the tables below! We still don’t know too much.

First Votes Update @ 7:20 PM

With the first votes in, here’s what we know: not much. Thanks to a host of uncontested races, we know there will be at least 10 Democrats and 1 Republican in the Virginia State Senate and 23 Democrats and 7 Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Only a precinct or two are in so far. Strap in!

Here we are. Election night. One hour till polls close. Throughout this cycle, there’s been a lot for Democrats to be excited about. Fundraising has been outstanding. Democrats have equalized and surpassed GOP spending in many districts. Great candidates are running inspiring campaigns and getting voters excited about voting in this off-off Election year. Democrats are poised for success. With two seats needed in the Senate and two seats needed in the House, Democrats should be able to grab outright majorities in both chambers. If 2019 mirrors 2017 in turnout, Democrats could be looking at 9 to 14 pickups across both chambers.

Below is our what-to-watch-for guide for the evening. We’ll update this as a live blog throughout the evening, so pop back in for updates.

1. 2017 Heartbreaks

In 2017, a number of districts remained in GOP hands after tight races, none tighter than House District (HD) 94, where Shelly Simonds lost in a coin toss. In 2017, some of these districts were not on most people’s radar screens, but now stand as some of the hottest races this cycle. We’re particularly excited by the level of investment in HD 100, where EveryDistrict has invested in both 2017 and 2019, as an important urban-to-rural district that Democrats can win.

Overall, though, these districts are getting substantial attention, and their partisan lean, measured through our Legislative District Index (LDI),** indicates that victories will be hard fought.

Chamber District LDI D CandidateR Candidate Dem % GOP % Margin Vote Diff
House 27 -2 Larry BarnettRoxann Robinson*49.68%50.31%-0.63%-191
House 28 -1 Josh ColePaul Milde51.82%47.79%  4.03%   1,036  
House 40 +4 Dan HelmerTim Hugo*53.32%46.58%6.74%1,936
House 94 +18 Shelly SimondsDavid Yancey* 57.70%40.29%   17.41%3,487  
House 100 +4 Phil HernandezRob Bloxom*48.03%51.91%-3.88%-887

2. New Districts, New Opportunities

The decision in the Bethune case has put several districts in the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas into play. As a result of that decision, some districts shifted majorly in Democrats’ direction, most notably HD 66 and HD 76, two districts where Republican leadership are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold onto seats with double-digit Democratic leans. Republicans are talking big about their ability to retain these districts, which have occupied a lot of the narrative. The truth is that the GOP is playing defense in a broad field including all of these districts below. Democratic pickups could get pretty substantial in this list, even if those two districts remain in the GOP column. In 2017, we saw some of the last Northern Virginian GOP members get swamped. Is it time for the same downstate?

Chamber District LDI D CandidateR Candidate Dem % GOP % Margin Vote Diff
House 66 +7 Sheila Bynum-ColemanKirk Cox*47.05%51.72%-4.67%-1,304
House 76 +13 Clint JenkinsChris Jones* 56.31% 43.52%12.79%3,389
House 81 -1 Len MyersBarry Knight*47.73%52.14%-4.41%-979
House 83 +6 Nancy GuyChris Stolle* 49.95% 49.87%0.08%18
House 84 +1 Karen MallardGlenn Davis*48.74%51.16%-2.42%-499
House 91 +8 Martha MuglerColleen Holcomb54.73% 45.02% 9.71%   2,045  

3. If We Ain’t Winning Here…

How might we know if Democrats are having a really bad night? If they start losing in these districts. These are some of the best pickups in the Senate and some of the most vulnerable Democratic seats in the House that we won in 2017. If Democrats lose in these places, it’s not over, but it gets a lot tougher, particularly in the Senate.

Chamber District LDI D CandidateR Candidate Dem % GOP % Margin Vote Diff
Senate 10 +10 Ghazala HashmiGlen Sturtevant*54.31%45.63%8.68%6,995
Senate 13 +2 John BellGeary Higgins 54.56%45.36% 9.20%7,374
House 10 +4 Wendy Gooditis*Randy Minchew 52.41% 47.53%4.88%1,494
House 72 0 Schuyler VanValkenburg*GayDonna Vandergriff53.33%46.56%6.77%2,078
House737Rodney WillettMary Margaret Kastelberg52.34%47.52%4.82%1,377
House 85 +1 Alex AskewRocky Holcomb51.66%48.20%3.46%800

4. Big Night Alert

On the other hand, Democrats have a lot of upside here. In addition to the long list of Bethune districts, victories in these Senate and House districts would indicate that Democrats are on a path to a romp.

There are three types of districts on this list. SD 7, SD 8, SD 12, and SD 17 are all highly winnable Senate districts that have appeared close in private polling and fundraising. HD 62 is the most GOP-leaning seat EveryDistrict has endorsed in because it represents a type of district Democrats must win elsewhere in 2020.

The third type of district is the real reaches in SD 11, HD 26, and HD 30, each with their own unique story (EveryDistrict has not made endorsements in these three districts). Amanda Chase, the GOP incumbent in SD 11, has drawn the ire of many, driving support for her opponent. In HD 26, Brent Finnegan is running a compelling campaign in the most winnable district in the Valley. In HD 30, incumbent GOP Delegate Nick Freitas failed to get his name on the ballot. These districts lean heavily Republican, but if Democrats steal one, then other big gains should be on the table, too.

Chamber District LDI D CandidateR Candidate Dem % GOP % Margin Vote Diff
Senate 7 +3 Cheryl TurpinJen Kiggans49.49%50.36%-0.87%-514
Senate 8 -3 Missy Cotter SmasalBill DeSteph* 47.75%52.11%-4.36%-2,394
Senate 11 -10 Amanda PohlAmanda Chase* 44.86% 55.14%-10.34%-8,371
Senate 12 -1 Debra RodmanSiobhan Dunnavant*48.95%50.88%-1.93% -1,518
Senate 17 -2 Amy LauferBryce Reeves*48.11% 51.59%-3.48%-2,327
House 26 -10 Brent FinneganTony Wilt* 45.85%53.99% -8.14% -1,548
House 30 -23 Ann RidgewayNick Freitas* 42.11%57.89%-15.78% -4,120
House 62 -6 Lindsey DoughertyCarrie Coyner44.81%55.16%-10.35% -2,473

5. A Closing Remark

With all the good news—about money, candidates, and court-ordered redistricting—2019 has to favor Democrats. Virginia is a unique state, a rapidly “blue-ifying” state with plenty of winnable, Democratic-leaning districts. The map in 2020 will be considerably more challenging. Let’s see how tonight goes, and let’s strap in for a challenging road ahead.

** Our LDI measures the competitiveness of every state legislative district in the country. It’s the only public one around. Go to to see more. A positive score means the district leans Democratic. A negative score means it leans Republican.

* Denotes incumbent.