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Virginia House of Delegates
Post-Election Analysis

Amidst the Republican Victory, Little Competition and Lopsided Districts

 
Republicans completed their march on Richmond in the 1990s, taking four new seats in the House of Delegates and gaining a total of three to gain a 52-47 edge, with one Republican-leaning independent. But as throughout the 1990s, the excitement was limited to a handful of districts, which could easily be identified long before the election. Despite the unprecedented amount of money spent in these elections, the incumbent party maintained 95% of seats, and 94% of races were won by comfortable margins of at least 10%.

Seat Changes

Where seats changed hands was largely unsurprising. Among the 12 districts we identified as ones to watch ˝ based solely on how close the election was in 1997 and whether the seat was open ˝ were four of the five districts that changed parties in this election. (The only seat change we missed was in the 81st District, where Republican challenger Terrie Suit defeated a long-time Democratic incumbent who had not been contested in the past two elections.)

The open seat races were surprisingly competitive, given that only one of nine open seats had changed hands in 1997. Three of six open seats resulted in a partisan shift ˝ two formerly Democratic seats (the 30th and 91st) became Republican, and one formerly Republican seat (the 7th) became Democratic. The 7th district is the only district held by Republicans after the 1991 elections that is now held by Democrats.

92 of 94 incumbents were returned to office. Other than the 81st District, the only other House incumbent to lose was Democrat Gladys Keating, (43rd District), who also had faced a close race in 1997. She lost by 52-48%.

Lack of Competition

Once again, there was very little competition in Delegate races in 1999. There were:

  • 78 landslide wins (20% and over margin)
  • 16 comfortable wins (10-20% margin)
  • 6 close wins under 10%
     
The 1999 numbers were similar to those of 1997, when there were more landslides (84), fewer comfortable wins (7), and more close wins (9).

Both 1997 and 1999 saw 61 races with either no opposition or no major party opposition.

In 1999, there were 48 winners who were completely unopposed and 13 more who had opposition from only non-major party candidates. In 1997, 49 seats were completely unopposed and 12 more had no major party opposition.

The six closest races in 1999 were divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans won narrow victories in the 43rd, 67th, and 81st, while Democrats won in the 44th, 94th, and 99th. These districts will not necessarily be close again in the November 2001 elections, as redistricting will take place after the census provides new population numbers in April 2001. The Republican party will have monopoly control of redistricting.

Women in the Legislature

The number of women in the House of Delegates stayed constant at only 15 out of 100 delegates. Tom Bolvin defeated Rep. Gladys Keating in the 43rd District, Democrat Kristen Amundson replaced a woman in the open seat election in the 44th District and Republican Terrie Suit in the 81st District was the only woman to gain a seat previously held by a man.

In VirginiaÝs state senate races, women increased their numbers from seven to eight. Democrat Linda "Toddy" Puller won in an open seat previously held by a man in District 36, while Democrat Leslie Byrne beat incumbent Republican Jane Woods in District 34.

A Lock On Elections In Virginia
__*Post-Election Analysis*
____Introduction, October 1999
______Pre-Election Press Release
________1st District ˝ 25th District
__________26th District ˝ 50th District
____________51st District ˝ 75th District
______________76th District ˝ 100th District

 

 
 
 
 
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