RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – As candidates make their final pitches before polls close in Virginia, Democrats and Republicans seem cautiously optimistic about their chances.
Both sides say the race for General Assembly control will be tight with eyes on the competitive state legislative districts that will likely decide the balance of power.
All 140 state legislative seats are on the ballot – some candidates are running unopposed – but only a dozen or so are considered toss-ups.
Democrats are hoping to keep the state Senate and flip the House of Delegates, and Republicans are hoping for it to go the other way – but the GOP only needs a tie in the Senate as Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears holds the tie-breaking vote in the 40-member chamber.
Democrats have seen “promising signs” in early voter turnout numbers, Heather Williams, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee interim president, told reporters on a press call Monday.
But she confessed that it “will be close” and which party controls the legislature will depend on toss-up districts.
Dave Rexrode, a special advisor to Gov. Glenn Youngkin and chairman of his PAC, noted the slim margins of error for both parties in the House of Delegates and state Senate.
“In the House, there are roughly 45 safe/lean DEM seats, 45 safe/lean GOP seats, & 10 swing seats,” Rexrode wrote on X. “In the Senate there are roughly 17 safe/lean DEM seats, 16 safe/lean GOP seats, & 7 swing seats.”
These figures are close to an analysis from the Virginia Public Access Project, which has 20 state Senate districts as strong or leaning Democratic, 16 strong or leaning Republican and four competitive districts. VPAP has 45 strong or leaning Republican House districts, 48 strong or leaning Democratic and seven competitive.
Rexrode pointed to the success Youngkin had in the swing districts during the 2021 governor’s race but also acknowledged that President Biden and U.S. House Democrats performed better in 2020 and 2022.
But Rexrode added that the governor, who has figured prominently in this year’s elections, has given more than $14 million to candidates and stumped for them on the campaign trail – an effort that he noted to end on an enthusiastic note.
“Despite the previous election history in these target districts & the DEM cash advantage, ALL of our targeted candidates remain in a strong position to win heading into Election Day,” he wrote.
Polls close at 7 p.m. Voters in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.