In Virginia, polls favor Democrats while House elections set to be tight

By Zach Armstrong

PETERSBURG, Va -- Polling data indicates that the commonwealth is set for tight races in congressional elections for the U.S. House while Democrats will score large victories for the U.S. Senate and Presidency in the Nov. 3 election.

According to RealClearPolitics.com, a political news site that bases its estimations by averaging poll results from numerous reliable sources, Virginians are favoring former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump by 11 points. The website also estimated Sen. Warner leading Republican candidate Daniel Gade statewide by a 17-point margin.

Democratic politicians Biden and Warner are also projected to have large victories in Virginia based on estimations by the award winning Fivethirtyeight.com who put Biden at an 18-point lead above President Trump as of Oct. 3 and Warner leading Gade by 13 points as of Sept. 24.

Numerous elections in Virginia’s House congressional districts, however, are polling at much more narrow margins. U.S. House elections in Virginia that the nation is keeping an eye on are for congressional districts 2, 5 and 7.

The latest data by Fivethirtyeight’s website shows a modest one point lead for Republican Bob Good over Democratic challenger Cameron Webb for Virginia’s 5th district which decreased from the previous month’s results that estimated a two-point margin. Incumbent representative of the district Rep. Denver Riggleman (R) lost the Republican nomination to Good at the party's district convention.

Webb, an internal medicine doctor and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia, faces a tough battle for a district that went for Trump and Senate candidate Corey Stewart two years before a Democrat lost to Riggleman despite outspending him.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-7) is also set for a competitive election for the voters of Richmond’s western neighborhoods against Culpeper County Republican Committee Chairman Del. Nick Freitas (R-30) has represented Orange County and Madison County and part of Culpeper County since 2016. RealClearPolitics.com categorized the race as a “toss up”.

The 2018 victory for Rep. Spanberger in the historically Republican district was largely thanks to the suburb’s negative reaction to the Donald Trump presidency. Freitas holds a libertarian record being fiscally conservative while supporting initiatives such as marijuana legalization which could appeal to right-of-center anti-Trump voters.

“This is a battle for the suburbs,” said Mark Rozell, dean of George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government to the Washington Post. “Spanberger has to remind people why they voted for her in the first place: to take a Republican incumbent out of office.”

Rep. Spanberger, former CIA officer and Postal Inspection Service investigator, became the first democrat to win the district in half a century after narrowly defeating incumbent Dave Brat helping Democrats retake the House in 2018.

Also in RealClearPolitics.com’s category of “toss up” elections in 2020 is the election for Virginia’s 2nd district between first-term Rep. Elaine Luria (D) and Republican opponent Scott Taylor who Luria defeated for the seat in the 2018 midterms. Taylor had represented Virginia’s 85th district in the general assembly before serving one term as the 2nd district’s House Representative.

Rep. Luria defeated Taylor 51.1%-48.9% receiving 139,571 votes as opposed to Taylor’s 133,458. According to polling by Fivethirtyeight in July, the 2nd district’s candidates are exactly even at 48% each.

The commonwealth’s projected favor in 2020 for Democratic politicians at the federal level is part of Virginia’s contemporary shift from away from a swing state to a consistently blue one. The expanding region of Northern Virginia is both a high-income region and a stronghold for democrats. Many in the region are former residents of Washington D.C. who moved to Virginia for suburban life in recent years.

Virginia had voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every general election between 1968 and 2004 and even gave blowout margins to some including 62% for President Ronald Reagan’s reelection and 68% for President Richard Nixon in 1972.

President Barack Obama won Virginia in both of his election campaigns and the state voted for Hillary Clinton over President Donald Trump in 2016. The commonwealth has also elected four Democratic governors and three Democratic senators in the past 17 years.

Incumbent candidate Donald Trump visited Newport News along with Vice President Mike Pence and 5th district Republican candidate Del. Nick Freitas.