After failing to redraw Virginia's congressional districts, the VA Independent Redistricting Commission handed its powers over to the State Supreme Court.
Virginia is an example of how independent commissions aren't always the best choice. Often, the members are too partisan to reach a deal, especially in states that hold a significant power over House balance. This is why the Old Dominion's State Supreme Court was put in charge of redistricting.
The map drawn by the Supreme Court-appointed special redistricting masters has the same partisan breakdown of the previous one:
- 2 Safe Republican seats
- 4 Safe Democratic seats
- 3 Likely Republican seats
- 1 Likely Democratic seat
- 1 Very Competitive seat
But much has changed.
- Virginia's 10th Congressional District, represented by Democratic Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton was a reliably blue district in the old map. With the special masters' proposal, this suburban district is set to become more Republican, possibly even a pick-up opportunity in the case of a very favorable national environment for the GOP. Virginia's 10th drops Clarke County in the West (small heavily Republican county) and parts of Alexandria's suburbs and receives big chunks of Fauquier and Rappahannock counties, also Republican, mainly suburban/exurban. Virginia's 10th district could potentially become competitive with a moderate Republican as candidate, especially in 2022. After Donald Trump lost it by 18 points in 2020, Terry McAuliffe won by just two points.
My rating for VA-10? LEAN/LIKELY D
- Virginia's 7th Congressional District, currently represented by the moderate Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, is set to become the Commonwealth's most competitive seat. With a PVI of just D+2 and a 5-point Youngkin win in 2021, this suburban district based between Alexandria's suburbs and Fredericksburg, would be an excellent pick-up opportunity for the Grand Old Party. Yesli Vega, an hispanic young woman, successful advisor to the Youngkin Gubernatorial Campaign in 2022, has already announed that she will run as a Republican to unseat incumbent Rep. Spanberger (D). Trump-endorsed candidate Amanda Chase, self described as "Trump in heels" and failed 2021 Gubernatorial candidate, had announced her candidacy against Spanberger back in November. It's now confirmed that she will back down and that the local GOP will leave the nomination to Vega, at least for 2022. For such a competitive district, Vega's nomination would certainly increase GOP's chances at taking over the seat.
My rating for VA-07? LEAN R
- Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, represented by moderate Democrat Elaine Luria will be a difficult seat to hold on for the DNC, at least in 2022. Under the approved Special Masters' map, the 2nd district would abandon its enclave around Hampton and Newport (Democratic areas) and expand in the south into Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Isle of Wight counties (Republican areas). VA-2nd's PVI would go from a Dem-winnable R+2 to a solid R+6. While Trump did lose the district in 2020 by one point, Glenn Youngkin triumphed in these areas by around 11 percentage points, leading him to victor at the statewide level. There is a very good possibility that, two-term Congresswoman Elaine Luria, who's just announced that she will run for re-election, could lose, and by a sizable margin. Moderate Republican Jen Kiggans has announced a promising candidacy, and will probably defeat Luria in November as the GOP-nominee.
My rating for VA-02? LEAN/LIKELY R
- Virginia's 1st Congressional District, represented by Republican Congressman Robert Wittman is set to abandon DC suburbs for more Republican-comfortable Richmond suburbs in Chesterfield County. The approved map would turn the seat's PVI from R+11 to R+14, making it safer for the GOP. Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) won the seat in a blowout, defeating Terry McAuliffe by 17 points.
My rating for VA-01? SAFE R
- Virginia's 5th Congressional District, just as Wittman's VA-01 will turn more Republican under the redesigned borders. Bob Good, the populist Republican who represents the district, managed to turn this Republican stronghold into a competitive seat last year. Good won by a mere 5.2 points margin in a district where Republicans should run up double digit-victories. This year, with a favorable Republican environment and the district abandoning NoVA and Roanoke's suburbs, Good should be able to win more comfortably.
My rating for VA-05? LIKELY/SAFE R
- Virginia's 6th Congressional District and Virginia's 9th Congressional District, representing the Western part of the Commonwealth, remain heavily Republican and suffer only marginal changes to their borders. They're SAFE R
- Virginia's 3rd Congressional District, Virginia's 4th Congressional District, Virginia's 8th Congressional District, and Virginia's 11th Congressional district, respectfully representing Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Richmond, Alexandria and DC suburbs remain heavily Democratic and suffer only marginal changes to their borders. They're SAFE D
Resuming my ratings:
VA-01 (R-Wittman): SAFE R
VA-02 (D-Luria): LEAN/LIKELY R
VA-03 (D-Scott): SAFE D
VA-04 (D-McEachin): SAFE D
VA-05 (R-Good): LIKELY/SAFE R
VA-06 (R-Cline): SAFE R
VA-07 (D-Spanberger): LEAN R
VA-08 (D-Beyer): SAFE D
VA-09 (R-Griffith): SAFE R
VA-10: (D-Wexton): LEAN/LIKELY D
VA-11 (D-Connolly): SAFE D
The 7-4 D delegation turns into a 6-5 R delegation, per my ratings.
Overall, I believe that the drawn map is a very fair and competitive way to re-arrange Virginia's districts. When Republicans get more votes, they get a majority of the congressional delegation, when Democrats do, they get a majority of the Congressional delegation. Several districts can be defined as competitive, meaning that we will have a lot to fun watching candidates campaigning there! In conclusion, considering the 2022 national environment, GOP's recent victories at the statewide and local level, Republicans should be advantaged and should flip at least two seats.
If you want to read more about the districts and how Trump and Youngkin fared in each one of them, here's a map that I think will be useful to you: