circle_small.gif (2760 bytes)
order materials


For Immediate Release
October 22, 1999
Contact: Eric Olson
(301) 270-4616


Analysis on Web Shows 9 Seat Changes in 300 House "Races" since 1991

Few Virginia Voters to Have Role in 
Determining Partisan Control in 1999


Despite unprecedented attention on Virginia's November 1999 state legislative elections, the campaign funds being raised from out-of-state and the elections' potential significance, most eligible Virginians are unlikely to vote for a simple reason. Most of them live in delegate districts without a contest, and only one in ten live in districts with any real chance of shifting parties.

The Center for Voting and Democracy, a non-partisan organization that analyzes elections and electoral reform, today released print and web ( versions of a report on Virginia elections. The district-by-district analysis demonstrates that few Virginians will have any say in the fight this year over whether Democrats will maintain a slim, one-seat house majority or the Republicans will finish their sweep of state government.

As detailed in the accompanying report summary, the Center found that in elections to the Virginia House of Delegates:

Only 3% of races have resulted in a partisan shift since 1991, and only 7 incumbents are likely to have any viable opposition in 1999

61 out of 100 races have already been decided, with an incumbent or open seat nominee facing no competition from a major party

Since the last redistricting in 1991, 299 of 400 races (75%) have been "landslide" wins, and 153 of 400 were not contested

"By waving a white flag in most districts in such an important election, party leaders are admitting that few districts can be competitive," commented Rob Richie, the Center's executive director. "That means few Virginians have a meaningful role to play in deciding who runs their government. For all the increased campaign spending, the key to most elections in the next decade will be the same as this year: how legislators design district lines in redistricting."

The Center will add 1999 results to shortly after the elections. For more information or to discuss the study with Center staff or Virginia board member William Redpath, please call (301) 270-4616.

- 30 -

6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 901
Takoma Park, MD 20912 
(301) 270-4616

Summary of Key Findings in 

Only 3% of delegate races have resulted in a partisan shift since 1991: In 300 delegate races since 1991, only nine shifted party control. Five open seat races resulted in party shifts, and only four incumbents were defeated.

Democrats gained only one seat in 1993-1997: In the whole 1993-1997 period, the Democrats only gained one seat -- when they regained district 5 in 1995 after losing it in 1993. The Republicans picked up eight seats, including their temporary gain in district 5.

Only 7 incumbents are likely to face viable opposition in 1999: Only eight seats could be termed competitive in 1997, including only two held by Republicans. Six incumbents in these districts -- Democrats in districts 5, 14, 43 and 86 and Republicans in districts 35 and 96 -- are seeking re-election and face opposition. The Democratic-held district 30 is an open seat this year.

Most open seats will not change partisan control: There are six open seats in 1999, but most are unlikely to change partisan control because the district leans toward the party previously holding the seat. Only one of nine open seats in 1997 resulted in a party change.

61 of 100 races are already decided, with no competition from a major party: Democrats have fielded 66 candidates for 100 seats, while Republicans have fielded 72 candidates. Incumbent Lacey Putney is the only viable independent candidate. In 1997, 61 seats also were won without major party competition; 49 were completely uncontested.

A decade of non-competition: Since the last redistricting in 1991, three in four seats (299 out of 400) have been "landslide" wins of more than 20%, and one in three races were not contested by one of the major parties.

More than half of state senate seats also not contested in 1999: 23 out of 40 state senate seats are not being contested by a major party in 1999.

A Lock On Elections In Virginia
__*Post-Election Analysis*
______Press Release
________1st District 25th District
__________26th District 50th District
____________51st District 75th District
______________76th District 100th District

For more information, contact:
Eric Olson, Deputy Director
Rob Richie, Executive Director
The Center for Voting and Democracy
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 901
Takoma Park, MD 20912
(301) 270-4616

top of page

Copyright 2001 The Center for Voting and Democracy
6930 Carroll Ave. Suite 901    Takoma Park, MD  20912
(301) 270-4616 ____ [email protected]