Updated November 16, 2021
The 2021 Virginia elections have come to an end. Though explanations for what we saw in Virginia continue to come out, we can begin to reflect on the work that Sister District did in Virginia this year. Virginia is near and dear to our hearts at Sister District, as it is the first state we worked in back in 2017 and the only state where we’ve supported candidates for three legislative cycles.
In 2017 and 2019, we invested heavily in Virginia, helping to flip many of the most competitive districts across the state. In 2021, we came back to protect the most fragile incumbents against aggressive campaigning from their opposition. We could not be prouder to have worked with 12 amazing candidates in 2021 to build toward that goal.
Unfortunately, many amazing candidates were unsuccessful in their bids for office or for reelection, including some Sister District supported candidates. Sadly, Terry McAuliffe also lost his bid for governor, breaking the Democratic trifecta. This is obviously not the outcome we hoped for and worked toward this year. But there are a few bright spots.
One is that Democrats still have control of the Virginia Senate, which will provide a check on the House of Delegates in the next session when control is transferred to Republicans. The Democratic-controlled Senate will be able to block extreme bills that may pass in the House. Democratic control of the Senate also means that Republicans will not have the power to roll back the progressive bills that Democrats have passed since 2020, including bills that expanded voting access, protected civil rights, and addressed climate change.
Another bright spot is that, regardless of the final tally, Democrats will be in easy striking distance to take back the House of Delegates in 2023. We have flipped 21 seats blue in Virginia’s House of Delegates since 2017 and we did not lose close to 21 seats this year. We will continue to fight and win.
We’re so proud that Sister District candidates Briana Sewell, Elizabeth Guzman, and Wendy Gooditis all won their races! Unfortunately, Christ Hurst, Finale Norton, Debra Gardner, Joshua Cole, Lashrecse Aird, Nancy Guy, and Roslyn Tyler lost their races and have conceded. Our other candidates, Martha Mugler and Alex Askew, are in close races that are in recounts.
We aren’t going to sugarcoat it: these losses are disappointing. But we must be invested in the long game. To build enduring progressive power in state legislatures, we have to be ready for wins and losses. We have to keep going regardless of the outcome in any given year. Our work is permanent – there is no finish line. We must commit — together — to stay in the fight.
We will continue to share insights as data comes in. Let’s review what we know.
Sister District Candidates Election Results
- Wins: Elizabeth Guzman; Briana Sewell; Wendy Gooditis
- Losses: Chris Hurst; Finale Norton; Roslyn Tyler; Debra Gardner; Joshua Cole; Lashrecse Aird; Nancy Guy
- Not Yet Called: Alex Askew; Martha Mugler
Close Races and Tiny Margins in Virginia
Sister District supported candidates in some of the most competitive House districts in Virginia.
- Alex Askew: down by 127 votes (0.45%) (note: race not yet called – recount)
- Wendy Gooditis: won by 821 votes (1.97%)
- Martha Mugler: down by 94 votes (0.34%%) (note: race not yet called – recount)
- Joshua Cole: lost by 647 votes (2.01%)
Sister District Volunteers are Voter Outreach & Fundraising Powerhouses
Our amazing volunteers worked until the very last minute for our candidates, and their field and fundraising output was prodigious:
- $558,574.31 raised from 13,782 donations (10.9% increase in fundraising per candidate over 2019)
- 225,883 phone calls (8.33% increase over 2019)
- 106,074 postcards sent to voters (160.8% increase over 2017)
- Average funds raised per candidate: $46,548 (10.88% increase over 2019; 3.15% increase over 2020)
Early Support Made a Huge Difference
Sister District volunteers contributed a lot of time and money to early (pre-September 1) field and fundraising, resulting in an influx of support to our candidates during a critical time. Sister District volunteers provided:
- Approximately 2,854 early volunteer hours spent supporting our candidates
- 71,341 early phone calls (65.42% of candidates’ early phone calls on average)
- $330,260.39 early dollars (6.95% of candidates’ total early money)
- $128,882.93 small dollar donations (less than $100; 21.29% of candidates’ early small dollar donations)
Highlights: Impact on Individual Campaigns
Some of our field and fundraising efforts were astounding in magnitude. Sister District volunteers made:
- Wendy Gooditis (HD-10): Sister District volunteers made 54.76% of the campaign’s total phonebank calls*, reached out to 19,781 voters, identified 861 supporters, gave 16% of her early donations, and raised $38,308.50 for her. She won by just 821 votes (1.97%).
- Briana Sewell (HD-51): Our volunteers made 75% of Briana’s early phonebank calls, reached out to 18,894 voters, gave 41% of her early donations, and raised $41,378.07 for her. She’ll be the first Black person and the youngest woman to represent HD-51.
- Elizabeth Guzman (HD-31): We made 77% of Elizabeth’s total phonebank calls, gave 10.5% of her early small dollar donations, and raised $31,516.01 for her. She is the first Latina and first woman to be re-elected in HD-31, and the first Latina reelected twice to the House of Delegates.
- Overall, Sister District made 55% of Wendy’s, 77% of Elizabeth’s, and 87% of Brianna’s total phonebank calls*
*note: this does not include calls made by c3/c4 organizations or the coordinated campaign.
Field & Fundraising Support Went Where it Was Needed
Here’s a quick look at where our 2021 field and fundraising efforts went:
- % of fundraising for female candidates: 64.66%
- % of fundraising for candidates of color: 67.42% (32.32% increase over 2019; 17.39% increase over 2020)
- % of fundraising to candidates where race was decided by <5%: 76.02%
- % of fundraising to candidates where race was decided by <10%: 87.03%
- % of early small dollars to female candidates: 65.82%
- % of early small dollars for candidates of color: 69.63%
- % of early fundraising for candidates where race was decided by <5%: 70.74%
- % of field touches made for female candidates: 64.01%
- % of field touches made for candidates of color: 68.98%
- % of field touches made in races decided by <5%: 80.56%
- % of field touches made in races decided by <10%: 92.99%
- % of phone calls for female candidates: 63.19%
- % of phone calls made for candidates of color: 70.63%
- % of phone calls made in races decided by <5%: 78.96%
- % of early phone calls made for female candidates: 64.41%
- % of early phone calls made for candidates of color: 70.51%
- % of early phone calls made in races decided by <5%: 74.27%
- % of early phone calls made in races decided by <10%: 85.25%
- % of candidate supporters* we identified in races decided by <5%: 79.95%
- % of candidate supporters we identified in races decided by <10%: 93.828%
Sister District Candidates at a Glance
Quick stats regarding our 2021 Sister District candidate class:
- 75% women (10.29% increase from 2019)
- 66.67% candidates of color (40% increase from 2017; 34.67% increase from 2018; 25.49% increase from 2019; 19.17% increase from 2020)
- 41.67% candidates 40 and under (6.37% increase from 2019; 6.67% increase from 2020)
Sister District Legislators: Incredible Firsts
There are some incredible firsts among our Sister District legislators-elect. These include:
- Briana Sewell will be the first Black person and the youngest woman to represent HD51
- Elizabeth Guzman is the first Latina and first woman to be reelected in HD31 and the first Latina reelected twice to the Virginia House of Delegates