Tuesday Night’s Results
Virginia Democrats sweep the General Assembly, now have majority in both chambers.
All eyes were on Virginia Tuesday night as votes were tallied. The 2023 Virginia General Election saw all 100 House and 40 Senate seats on the ballot. This “Off-Off-Year” election cycle was the first time candidates ran in the newly drawn legislative districts.
The backdrop of the 2023 General Election was a focused message on abortion rights by the Democrats. In contrast, the Democrats had to contend with President Biden’s sagging approval rating and strong fundraising by Republicans which was aided by Governor Glenn Youngkin. This election cycle will be one of the most expensive in Virginia history. For example, the three most closely watched Senate races, the total amount raised by the six major-party candidates was $25 Million (as of the end of October). In 2019, the total amount spent for all candidates running for the Senate was $56 Million.
As races were called and Democrats claimed victories, Governor Youngkin’s hopes for a Republican trifecta faded. Virginia Democrats reclaimed the majority in the General Assembly after two years of divided power. Senate Democrats maintained their majority with 21 seats to Republicans’ 19. In the House, Democrats won back a slim majority with 51 seats to 49 Republicans.
In the Senate, Democratic caucus leadership celebrated the decisive victory by holding blue-painted bricks above their heads symbolizing the Democrats “blue wall” against Governor Youngkin’s agenda. Success for the Democrats came down to a few key races, while Senate Republicans were able to pick up one seat claimed victory in some of the most watched races.
Key Senate Races:
SD16 – Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg (D) prevails over Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R) in this Henrico based district.
SD17 – Delegate Emily Brewer (R) wins over Delegate Clint Jenkins (D) in this rural Hampton Roads/Southside district.
SD24 – Newcomer Danny Diggs (R) likely prevails over Incumbent Senator Monty Mason (D) in this Peninsula area district. (Still too close to call but leading)
SD27 – Delegate Tara Durant (R) defeats challenger Joel Griffin (D) in this Fredericksburg/Stafford district.
SD31 – Newcomer Russet Perry (D) prevails over newcomer Juan Pablo Segura (R) in this Loudoun/Fauquier district.
Democrats also found success flipping the House of Delegates which has been under Republican majority for the past two years. Democrats had big wins in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia and Republicans found success in central Virginia.
Key House Races:
HD21 – Newcomer Josh Thomas (D) defeats former Supervisor John Stirrup (R) in this open seat based in Prince William.
HD22 – Former Manassas City Councilman Ian Lovejoy (R) prevails over newcomer Travis Nembhard (D) in this Prince William based district.
HB41 – Newcomer Chris Obenshain (R) wins over newcomer Lily Franklin (D) in this Blacksburg/Roanoke County district.
HB57 – Newcomer David Owen (R) defeats newcomer Susanna Gibson (D) in this Henrico/Goochland based district.
HB58 – Incumbent Delegate Rodney Willett (D) prevails over challenger Riley Shaia (R) in this Henrico based district.
HB65 – Former Delegate Joshua Cole defeats Lee Peters (R) in this Fredericksburg area district.
HB82 – Incumbent Delegate Kim Taylor (R) likely prevails over challenger Kimberly Pope Adams (D) in this Petersburg/Dinwiddie district. (Still too close to call but leading)
HB84 – Delegate Nadarius Clark (D) prevails over Michael Dillender (R) in this Chesapeake area district.
HD89 – Newcomer Baxter Ennis (R) prevails over Karen Jenkins (D) in this Chesapeake/Suffolk District.
HD97 – Challenger Michael Feggans (D) defeats Incumbent Delegate Karen Greenhalgh (R) in this Virginia Beach based district.
*All November 2023 results are unofficial and subject to validation by local election officials.
As the dust settles, there will be much activity as the House Democrat Caucus organizes as the Majority Party and names a new Speaker of the House. Additionally, there will be significant turnover on House and Senate Committees Chairs and makeup. While the Democratic control of the General Assembly gives them the power to stall Governor Youngkin’s agenda, Democrats will need to work with Governor Youngkin to accomplish any of their own policy priorities.
Early voting vs. Election Day Turnout
The 2023 election is the first time Republicans have attempted to capitalize on early voting action. If successful, Republicans nationwide could follow Virginia’s lead and launch early voting efforts. In July, Governor Youngkin, Republican leadership, and GOP candidates for the Virginia General Assembly launched the Secure Your Vote Virginia campaign urging voters to vote early. In 2020 when Democrats held the trifecta of power, Virginia enacted one of the longest early voting periods of any state. In previous elections, Virginia’s early voting turnout favored Democratic candidates.
While Election Day data is still being compiled, the turnout is some of the key competitive contests was much higher than is typically seen in the off-off-year cycle. This high turnout shows an overall continued interest among even lower-propensity voters, especially in the more suburban areas of Northern Virginia, Central Virginia, and Hampton Roads.
Virginia: A predictor of the 2024 presidential cycle?
For many years Virginia has been viewed as a “bellwether” in national politics with Virginians giving the first indication on how things are going in Washington, D.C. Virginia is among only four states with legislative elections this year — in an “off-off year” with no national or statewide elections taking place.
Historically, in off-off-year elections, the political party that occupies the White House typically loses ground in the Virginia General Assembly. Currently, President Biden’s national approval rating stands at 40.3%. For comparison with other elections and the presidential approval ratings:
2019: Trump 43.3% - House Democrats Net +6/Senate Democrats Net +2
2011: Obama 45.2% - House GOP Net +6/Senate Republicans Net +2 (Redistricting Year)
2003: Bush 52.1% - House Democrats Net +3/Senate Republicans +1
Unlike with prior elections, this trend line for the 2023 General Election did not prove true. Notwithstanding Biden’s approval ratings, Democrats performed well in both the House and Senate contests.
To view a complete list of the 2023 General Assembly Members, click here.