Virginia’s 10th district has been represented by a Republican in Congress for decades. After 30 years in Congress our representative, Frank Wolf, retired in 2014 and his protege Delegate Barbara Comstock easily won the seat with 56% of the vote. Now she is up for re-election and signs have emerged that she could be in trouble, despite having raised far more money than her opponent.
A recent Democrat poll shows Comstock’s opponent, Lu Anne Bennett, leading in the district for the first time. Expedition Strategies conducted the poll for the Bennett campaign. Their results show Bennett up by 4, 46% to 42% with 11% undecided. In May their polling showed Bennett down by 11%. In September Bennett was down by 4%. Poll details and the trends are here.
There are several things effecting support for Barbara Comstock in the district. In the most recent poll in Virginia, Clinton is up by 9 points. That’s an average across the state. In some parts of the state Clinton’s margin is much lower, or Trump may even be ahead. That means in Northern Virginia Clinton’s support is much stronger, perhaps 12% to as much as 15% over Trump. With the Democrats coming out in Northern Virginia in larger numbers, that hurts Comstock. Unlike Republicans, Democrats in the 10th district will have a sample ballot with Clinton’s name and Lu Anne Bennett’s name.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting a big uptick in voters in early voting in Fairfax and Loudoun, more bad news for Comstock since these areas favor Democrats. From the Richmond Times,
In Fairfax, which delivered the most Democratic votes for President Barack Obama in 2012, early voting was up more than 73 percent. In Loudoun, which had the second-most Obama votes in 2012, early voting was up almost 53 percent.
“The early voting gap between Democratic- and Republican-leaning areas of the state suggests that Republicans might be wise to increase their voter contacts in the next several weeks,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington.
Clinton has a much better, more organized, ground game in Virginia. It’s no surprise the Clinton campaign has also organized a better early voting drive. Again, that’s not good news for Comstock.
In Presidential election years the occasional voters come out to vote. Many know next to nothing about politics. They don’t know who their Congressmen and Senators are. Since most voters don’t cross party lines when they vote, Bennett has an advantage with occasional voters because her name is on the Democrat sample ballot with Clinton. While Trump may bring occasional and new voters to the polls, there will be no Republican sample ballot because Comstock doesn’t want her name on a sample ballot with Trump. So these new Trump voters, and the occasional voters, won’t be much help to Comstock.
Many Trump supporters were furious when Comstock came out strongly against Trump saying he should leave the race. Those Trump supporters will not vote for Barbara Comstock. They have been very vocal on social media in their opposition to Comstock following her denunciation of Trump.
Along with those Trump supporters opposed to Comstock are members of the Republican party who won’t vote for Comstock because she won’t support the top of the ticket. Party members support the ticket and expect their Congressional Rep to do the same.”If Comstock can’t support Trump, I can’t support her”, is what I’ve been hearing.
Then there’s another group of Republicans who aren’t supporting Comstock, those who are unhappy with her voting record. Comstock ran as conservative and her voting record has not shown her to be a conservative. Comstock has a rating of 48% on the Heritage Action scorecard. The average Republican score is 66%. She less conservative than the average Republican in Congress by 18%! The Conservative Review gives Comstock an ‘F’ rating on their Liberty score. Disappointed Republicans are not supporting Comstock in this election.
Will Comstock win this election? Probably, but it will far closer than anyone expected.
UPDATE: LCRC Chairman Will Estrada has informed me that his executive committee has now voted to have sample ballots in Loudoun. I am glad to hear it because voters need to know how to vote on the proposed Constitutional Amendment and bond issues. I am assuming Trump and Comstock’s names will appear on the sample ballot in Loudoun but that has not been made clear.