The three Virginia races that will gauge the Republican wave
Rep. Luria (small), Rep. Spanberger (wavy), Rep. Wexton (holy shit!)
Due to its sheer size, the House midterm map is a mess to follow, unless you’re Dave Wasserman.
Even at this late date, hedging prognosticators still rank dozens of seats as “toss-ups” or gently leaning barely one way or the other. But it’ll be days after Election Night until anyone knows the exact size of victory in the people’s chamber, because large states like California, New York and Pennsylvania take days, if not weeks, to fully count their votes and certify victors.
Let’s not dance around what we know: The Democratic House is gone. With Republicans needing only six pick-ups to get there, it’d take a miraculous historical hiccup for it not to be.
It’s all about SIZE now, which obviously matters.
+12 seats? (baby gains) +20 seats? (getting wavy) +30 seats (oh shit baby)?
How many will the GOP put on the big board?
Here’s my suggestion: Set the entire map aside except for Virginia, which provides a neat trio of bellwethers that will allow you to gauge the magnitude of the wave.
Virginia polls close at 7 PM EST and the commonwealth traditionally counts fast, so by 10 PM Election Night it may be possible to measure the wave’s girth.
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The three seats to watch:
#VA02: Rep. Elaine Luria (GOP wins the House)
The Virginia Beach-based Elaine Luria is the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the state and the most likely to fall. After winning re-election in 2020 by just under 6 points, the Navy vet is now in a dead heat, which to Republicans means she’s fried. Jennifer Kiggans, also a Navy vet, would be her replacement and one House GOP operative predicts a 4-point Kiggans victory here. If Luria does indeed go down, the Democrats have unofficially lost the House. If she can somehow survive, it’s likely an indicator that the red wave has receded to a ripple or less.
#VA07: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (A Wavy good night)
Democrats know that if Abigail Spanberger falls in this northern-central VA seat, it’s a big red flag that demonstrates the Republican wave is about to pour over the country and into the suburbs. Spanberger is an A-grade incumbent who clung to her seat by 1.8 points in 2020. But like Luria, she is up against another female and a Hispanic in Yesli Vega. The aforementioned GOP operative tracking House races closely says that if #VA07 falls, Republicans will end up with at least 238 House seats, a sizable majority. “I’m excited for them to spend $10 million and lose there,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee executive director Tim Persico told me a few weeks ago.
#VA10: Rep. Jennifer Wexton (A Holy Shit! kinda night)
Encompassing the D.C. exurbs of Loudon and Prince William counties, Virginia’s 10th District has been safe blue turf. But after President Biden carried it by 18 points in 2020, Glenn Youngkin came within striking distance of carrying it in the 2021 gubernatorial contest. Enter retired Republican Navy officer Hung Cao (can you tell VA loves its vets). Cao just outraised Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who has gone hard on the attack, recently airing an ad that says Cao wants to punch Dr. Fauci. Even in a bad midterm year, Wexton should survive with a smaller margin win. But if Cao pulls off an upset, it’s the oh shit moment of Tuesday, the moment you know that incumbent Democrats who don’t even see it coming are going to lose. This is the *big wave* seat to watch.