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How the 2017 Virginia House of Delegates Elections Marked a Significant Shift in Modern American Politics.

In 2017, the Virginia House of Delegates elections – historically quiet races with limited press from local outlets – took center stage, gaining unprecedented attention from media across the country. It marked a significant shift in modern American politics – and money tells a big part of the story.

Since 2008, Democrats had been losing state legislature seats across the country, largely a result of targeted Republican tactics – tactics prioritizing state and local politics earlier and much more aggressively than the left. And in 2011, new census data and the subsequent redrawing of the legislative maps entrenched these victories for the right. The Virginia House of Delegates was especially affected by these efforts.

So in 2016, following Trump’s election, several groups – such as nationally-minded Forward Majority, Sister District and Let America Vote, as well as locally-focused Win Virginia and  Why Virginia Matters – formed to try and take back control by dedicating themselves to a singular mission: to break up the Republican supermajorities that they felt were not representative of the people and instead were reflective of pervasive gerrymandering and controlled constituencies.Flippable was one such group – made up of former Clinton organizers who set out to flip state governments blue – which put their support behind five candidates: Jennifer Carroll Foy, Danica Roem, Elizabeth Guzman, David Reid, and Kathy Tran.

How did the collective fare? Considering so-called Flippable alum flipped five seats, which along with 10 other flips broke the Virginia GOP’s supermajority, this joint initiative was, for all intents and purposes, a success.

But the increased attention on these races the past few years have brought more than high-profile politicos and national media to the state and local levels – it has brought significant contributions (for both parties) as well. We looked into combined total amounts raised by all parties, separated total amounts raised by major parties, as well as number of donations and average donations for both.

ElectionTot. Amt. Raised
No. of DonationsAvg. Donation
2017$61,817,818.3874,940$824.90
2015$36,694,752.2544,924$816.82
2013$46,255,320.2052,410$882.57
2011$24,917,97135,191$708
ElectionTot. Amt. Raised: DemNo. of Donations: DemAvg. Donation: DemTot. Amt. Raised: RepNo. of Donations: RepAvg. Donation: Rep
2017
$33,309,046.5847,534$700.74$28,508,771.8027,406$1,040.24
2015$11,316,285.5018,660$606.45$25,378,466.7526,264$966.28
2013$14,757,498.4222,914
$644.04$31,497,821.7829,496$1,067.87
2011$8,473,10815,485$547$16,444,86319,706$835

Through these four elections, you’ll see that seats held post-election remained constant until 2017 when Democrats entered the fray, forcing both parties’ candidates (and their respective contributors) to significantly increase their spends.

Then we went a step further by zeroing in on the five races that the Flippable alum won* by tracking back all the way to 2001, while also comparing 2017 and 2015, splitting the totals by candidate as well as the percentage of donations coming from out-of-state donors. (It’s interesting to note that while the number of out-of-state donations grew exponentially between 2015 and 2017, the averages for those contributions decreased, reflecting the increased participation of small-dollar donors in out-of-state elections.)

*Sign up for a premium plan for full access to all campaigns, searchable by dozens of data points. Or sign up for a FREE Starter account to search by Contributor.

House District 2

According to Ballotpedia: “This district was a Race to Watch because the incumbent won less than 55 percent of the vote in 2015 and did not file to run in 2017. Moreover, the presidential candidate of the opposite party won the district in 2016 by more than 20 points. Incumbent Mark Dudenhefer (R) was first elected in 2011, but was defeated by Democrat Michael Futrell in 2013. Dudenhefer won the seat back in 2015 by 1.1 points and opted not to run for re-election in 2017. District 2 was one of 51 Virginia House districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton carried District 2 by 20.4 points. Democrat Barack Obama won District 2 in the 2012 presidential election by 19.2 points.”

2017 Results:

2017 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Jennifer Foy
$717,817.47792$906.34$317,859.28381$834.28
Mike Makee$370,644.4072$5,147.84$35,664.4016
$2,229.03

*It should be noted that GOP primary winner Laquan Austion dropped out of the general election and was replaced by Makee. Austion had raised $134,633.16 before he stepped down.

2015 Results:

2015 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Mark Dudenhefer
$1,392,258.65475
$2,931.07$53,277.1123

$2,316.40
Joshua King$200,846.1290
$2,231.62$56,858.0023
$2,472.09

Historic Fundraising Breakdown:

House District 13:

According to Ballotpedia: :”This district was a Race to Watch due to the media attention it received. In this race, incumbent Republican Bob Marshall was challenged by Danica Roem, a Democratic candidate who is openly transgender. According to NBC, Roem was the first openly transgender candidate to win a primary election in Virginia and ran to be the third transgender state legislator elected in the United States. In 2017, Marshall introduced HB 1612, The Physical Privacy Act. HB 1612 would have required that government buildings maintain separate bathrooms for males and females and individuals use the bathroom designated for the sex listed on their birth certificate. Marshall won the seat by 12.2 points in 2015. District 13 was one of 51 Virginia House districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton carried District 13 by 14.8 points. Democrat Barack Obama won the seat in the 2012 presidential election by 11.1 points. As of 2017, District 13 covered parts of Prince William County.”

2017 Results:

2017 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Danica Roem
$2,051,468.721841
$1,114.32$1,161,261.93785$1,479.31
Bob Marshall$1,200,963.681679
$715.29$176,300.0093
$1,895.70

2015 Results:

2015 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Bob Marshall$175,724.04414$424.45$30,225.0025$1,209.00
Donald Shaw
$273,955.06654$418.89$49,452.7855
$899.14

Historic Fundraising Breakdown:

House District 31

According to Ballotpedia: “This district was a Race to Watch because the incumbent won less than 55 percent of the vote in 2015 and the presidential candidate of the opposite party won in 2016. Incumbent Scott Lingamfelter (R) was first elected to the seat in 2001. He won re-election in 2015 with 53.4 percent of the vote, defeating his Democratic challenger by 6.8 points. He won in 2013 by 1.0 points. District 31 was one of 51 Virginia House districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton carried District 31 by 10.3 points. Democrat Barack Obama won the seat in the 2012 presidential election by 7.4 points. As of 2017, District 31 covered parts of Fauquier County and parts of Prince William County.”

2017 Results:

2017 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Elizabeth Guzman
$2,961,686.722298
$1,288.81$1,008,917.60848
$1,189.76
Scott Lingamfelter$870,530.11643
$1,353.86$58,044.0085
$682.87

2015 Results:

2015 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Scott Lingamfelter$892,447.41879$1,015.30$92,959.5876
$1,223.15
Sara Townsend$409,832.75726$564.51$73,435.25133$552.14

Historic Fundraising Breakdown:

House District 32

According to Ballotpedia: “This district was a Race to Watch because the incumbent won less than 55 percent of the vote in 2015 and the presidential candidate of the opposite party won by more than 20 points in 2016. Incumbent Thomas Greason (R) was first elected to the seat in 2009. He won re-election in 2015 with 53.1 percent of the vote, defeating his Democratic challenger by 6.2 points. He won in 2013 by 2.8 points. District 32 was one of 51 Virginia House districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton carried District 32 by 20.9 points. Democrat Barack Obama won the seat in the 2012 presidential election by 5.6 points. As of 2017, District 32 covered parts of Loudoun County.”

2017 Results:

2017 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
David Reid$1,068,225.061840
$580.56$328,479.67579$567.32
Thomas Greason$798,092.38422$1,891.21$88,500.0074
$1,195.95

2015 Results:

2015 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Thomas Greason$482,902.31400$1,207.26$52,482.9756$937.20
Elizabeth Miller$560,685.871073
$522.54$163,988.13421
$389.52

Historic Fundraising Breakdown:

House District 42

According to Ballotpedia: “This district was a Race to Watch because the incumbent did not file to run for re-election and the presidential candidate of the opposite party won by more than 20 points in 2016. In 2015, incumbent Dave Albo (R), who was first elected in 1993, won re-election by 26.9 points. He declined to run in 2017. District 42 was one of 51 Virginia House districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton carried District 42 by 23.1 points. Democrat Barack Obama won the seat in the 2012 presidential election by 6.5 points. As of 2017, District 42 covered parts of Fairfax County.”

2017 Results:

2017 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Kathy Tran$1,522,242.842234$6,795.73$518,051.531126$460.08
Lolita Mancheno-Smoak$145,177.0395

$1,528.18$1,542.503
$514.17

2015 Results:

2015 Fundraising Breakdown:

CandidateTot. Amt. RaisedNo. of DonationsAvg. DonationAmt. Raise: Out-of-StateNo. of Donations: Out of StateAvg. Donation: Out of State
Dave Albo$411,432.64428

$961.29$69,400.0096$722.92
Joana Garcia$66,769.80131
$509.69$12,685.0031
$409.19

Historic Fundraising Breakdown:

In January of this 2019, “a special master redrew the map for the Virginia House of Delegates for the 2019 elections…Using the 2016 presidential election results as a baseline, the net result of the redrawing moved the Virginia House map from one where 51 districts voted for Hillary Clinton (D) and 49 districts voted for Donald Trump (R) to one where 56 districts voted for Clinton and 44 districts voted for Trump. Clinton defeated Trump statewide by a 49.7 to 44.4 margin.”

And in March of this year, Flippable (along with the major players from 2017) announced that they would be returning to Virginia, this time with the mission of flipping the House of Delegates altogether. “This November is our best—and last—chance to build a pro-democracy majority in the General Assembly before redistricting in 2021.”


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