Voters made their call Tuesday, but is Virginia seeing a blue wave of support?
All of the seats for the House of Representatives were up this election. After last night, seven Democrats and four Republicans will be representing Virginia’s Congressional Districts.
Political science professor Rich Meagher from Randolph Macon College says Democrats had a strong turn out at the polls, but there were serious gains for Republicans in the Senate and in governorships.
“If you add up all of the votes of all of the elections across the country Democrats outpaced Republicans by something by 9 percent and that’s a big gap in such a divided country,” he explained. “When we say blue wave it doesn’t mean Democrats run the country, but it means that our politics are trending in a democratic direction.”
Three key races flipped red districts to blue, with three women making their way to Congress: Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton. As of early Wednesday morning, nearly a hundred women were elected to the House of Representatives – a record.
“The last time we had something like a year of the woman was in 1992 which also followed some controversial Supreme Court hearings,” Meagher said, referencing when Anita Hill accused her supervisor, Clarence Thomas, or sexual harassment as he was in the nomination process of joining the highest court. During that election, women like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) was elected.
Wexton, a current state senator for Loudoun County, took the 10th in a landslide against incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock. Meagher says the northern district has been trending blue, which was on Wexton’s side.
“That district reverting to normal for where it is in the state and the kind of people that live in that district,” he said. “I think that Wexton has a strong base of support in her district. That can provide her with that kind of safety where she can be a strong leadership voice in the Democratic caucus and particularly among Virginia legislators and I think she might draw on her state senate experience as well.”
A surprising race to Meagher was Elaine Luria overtaking GOP Rep. Scott Taylor. There’s been some controversy over the race between Taylor and Luria because of the former Independent candidate, Shaun Brown. She was in the news recently after Taylor staffers were accused of forging signatures to get her name on the 2nd District ballot this November.
“Taylor had some issues earlier in the campaign about signatures for an independent candidate but that didn’t seem to stick to him very much and the district the demographics seemed to favor him a little more than they were in some of the other districts around the state,” Meagher said. “I think [District 2] is still pretty evenly divided. You can kind of think of it as a purple district, maybe even leaning red in other years might be retaken by a Republican candidate. Scott Taylor was just kind of on the bad end of a national election last night.”
The nationally-follow 7th District race was neck and neck all night. According to the Department of Elections, Abigail Spanberger beat out incumbent Rep. Dave Brat by 1.89 percent. It’s been 50 years since a Democrat has held the seat. Meagher says this victory sends a signal to Democrats.
“Her victory is a kind of model for Democrats going forward of how to run a successful campaign because she was able to overcome reasonably demographics in her district.
It was a reasonably strong Republican district,” Meagher said.
Meagher says Spanberger’s focus on the issues, like health care and education, as opposed to attacking her opponent or the Trump administration made her come off as a “responsible” candidate to voters.
The impacts of this election, Meagher says, could reflect in future campaigns too. With the General Assembly elections last year, there were a number of women candidates and more diversity brought to the capitol.
“That kind of momentum and that kind of opportunities for different kinds of candidates will continue through to next year,” he said.
These election results are technically unofficial until the State Board of Elections certifies them. That will happen on Nov. 19.