There’s a serious question here. Does Hill have a path to victory on Tuesday? For those of you who know me, you know I think about such things. Then I build statistical models analyzing the candidates, the historical voting records, the recent voting trends and combine it all to come up with an answer. First and foremost, given the history of the 10th district with a previous Congressman Frank Wolf who served 17 consecutive terms, is there any threat to Comstock at all? The answer to that is, there shouldn’t be, but…
But, Shak Hill, an Air Force Academy grad and fighter pilot saw an opportunity to challenge her in the primary. His focus has been on her voting record, which did not support the repeal of the affordable care act, it did support the largest budget in the history of the United States. From a how do you define conservative perspective, she has negatives. Her positives are on the side of life where she focused the majority of her tenure in the Virginia House of Delegates and can boast of several big wins. She votes to support business and defense spending which is the heart and soul of the Northern Virginia Economy. Based on the statistical models that she has a 70+% change of beating Shak for the nomination on Tuesday… But
Hill has made a bet that the Trump name, some high profile endorsements, which do not include Trump to my knowledge, and a good bit of groundwork will be enough to call the ranks of tea partiers and Trumpites from their homes to support him. It has happened before. Upsets in Primaries in the 10th District are not unheard of. However, upsets for the nomination for Congress are unheard of. Since 1970, neither the Republicans nor Democrats have nominated a candidate that was not the incumbent. It speaks to the character of the people. These are people who themselves are “highly paid, highly educated, and intelligent” – Larry Sabato. Such people crave stability.
From the analysis, the Trump name still seems to hurt more than it helps. Endorsements always help in a race like this, especially inside the party. The Comstock campaign sent out an email from Frank Wolf endorsing her again. This had a positive impact with the forty-five and over crowd. The Hill campaign has brought out a few celebrities and a few party insiders expressing disappointment with Comstock. The celebrities had a positive impact with non-Republican voters and the party insider testimonies actually had a negative overall impact to the campaign. The linear regression model sometimes captures things that seem counter intuitive, but it always reflects reality. From a policy perspective, Obamacare is still on the radar, as is fiscal solvency of the country. These two things had large negative impacts for Comstock but more from the perspective of people staying home than changing their vote to someone else. Trump specific issues such as immigration and Trump himself didn’t appear to have any impact on voting patterns. Defense spending and a positive perception from the Chamber of Commerce Republicans are Comstock’s strengths on Tuesday. With more than 11,000 model built and analyzed, Comstock wins 72.4% of the time with an average of 56% to 42%.
A couple of personal notes. I know both of the candidates very well. I would vote for either. I’ve campaigned for Barbara Comstock, but I haven’t always been happy with her votes. I have campaigned for Mr. Hill and we didn’t win, not because he wasn’t the better candidate. So I’ll add this note for people who want to be politicians and hold high office at the state level and the national level. I would suggest the House of Delegates and the local government as a place to start out. The idea that someone must wait their turn or pay their dues is almost a universally held belief among our voters, at least on the Republican side. It’s hard if not impossible to start at the top in Virginia. Something to consider.
Dr. Charles Bradford Cooper III, PhD