Big Picture: A Great Night for Dems Across the Country
The confetti has settled but we are still over the moon. Democrats flipped the House of Delegates and defended the majority in the State Senate in Virginia. Elsewhere, Democrats racked up huge victories with Issue 1 in Ohio, re-electing Governor Beshear in Kentucky, and expanding the majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Yesterday’s elections were a resounding victory for abortion and our democracy, and a rebuke of MAGA extremists.
Where Virginia Stands Right Now
The Senate stands at 21D-19R and the House at 51D-47R, with 2 races too close to call. Ballots may still be counted if they were postmarked by November 7 and received by Monday. But it’s already clear: the Virginia General Assembly is again blue.
Abortion was on the ballot in Virginia, and it won. So did 8 of our 10 candidates, who ran stellar campaigns with your grassroots support and our political staff’s expertise:
- Lashresce Aird – SD 13
- Schuyler VanValkenburg – SD 16
- Danica Roem – SD 30
- Russet Perry – SD 31
- Amy Laufer – HD 55
- Joshua Cole – HD 65
- Phil Hernandez – HD 94
- Michael Feggans – HD 97
Travis Nembhard (HD 22) and Susanna Gibson (HD 57) ran excellent campaigns in very tough districts, but unfortunately they came up short. As of this writing, it looks like Susanna missed the win by just hundreds of votes.
Our candidates came from a diversity of backgrounds and every walk of life. In the Senate races: Schuyler VanValkenburg is a high school civics teacher and has served as a Delegate since 2019. Danica Roem will be the first out transgender State Senator in the South and will continue to train and inspire women throughout the Commonwealth. Lashrecse Aird passed significant legislation during her tenure in the House of Delegates and will bring these skills to the State Senate. And Russet Perry will take her skills as a prosecutor and CIA operative to Richmond to fight for her community.
On the House side, Michael Feggans will continue to serve his community in a new capacity from his time in the US Air Force. Joshua Cole’s faith has guided his service as a pastor and will once again as a Delegate. Amy Laufer founded Virginia List to elect pro-choice Democratic women to the Virginia legislature and as former educator, will fight for public education. Phil Hernandez, a father of two young girls and a former adviser to President Obama on environmental policy, will ensure that the Commonwealth remains committed to environmental justice.
Part of our mission at Sister District is to support candidates who are reflective of the communities they represent. We are so proud that these winning candidates will bring a wide range of skill sets and perspectives to the statehouse next year.
Governor Youngkin urged Republicans across the Commonwealth to campaign on a “compromise” 15-week abortion ban, arguing that this was going to be the antidote to Republicans’ post-Dobbs ailments. He staked his reputation on this bet, and it failed. The mega donors who gave him $19 million in the hopes that a win would give him a platform to run for President are also smarting.
Sister District’s Impact
Once again, our volunteers had an outsized role in ensuring that our candidates had the support they needed to compete in this year’s majority-making districts. Sister District stands out by being one of the first endorsements that our candidates receive. Our early backing—which comes with a flood of early dollars and voter contact—is especially catalytic for first-time candidates needing to establish “viability.” Here’s a snapshot of what we accomplished this year:
- $573,697 raised for candidates and our State Bridges partner New Virginia Majority
- 79% of candidate fundraising raised before Labor Day
- 328,469 calls to voters
- 43% of our campaigns’ total calls
The early money we raised enabled our candidates to define themselves and the issues, preventing Republicans from controlling the narrative on the key issues of abortion and education. With your help, all of our candidates outraised their opponents and were able to out-communicate them across the finish line.
And the size and reliability of our phonebanking program gave our campaigns the flexibility to dispatch local volunteers to talk to voters face-to-face on the doors. We were also the primary partner in executing several of our candidates’ ballot chase programs, ensuring that voters who received mail-in ballots turned them in during the critical early vote period. Together with our targeted postcards and texts, we helped our campaigns reach all the voters in their universes, even those in hard-to-canvass neighborhoods.
Elections Have Consequences
Virginia is the last state in the South without a post-Roe abortion ban, and now it will continue to be a safe haven for people seeking an abortion. These majorities are also a mighty firewall against Republicans’ far-right agenda. And Democrats are well positioned to retake a trifecta when the Governor’s Mansion is up again in 2025.
What Virginia Means for 2024
Virginia is a perennial bellwether, and many of the 140 seats up for election were suburban swing districts, which have had critical sway in recent presidential elections. Last night’s victories add to Democrats’ consistent overperformance in special elections and a key victory in the Wisconsin Supreme Court this year.
But, we are taking none of this for granted. Among many factors in the political climate, Trump will almost certainly be on the ballot next year, and is certain to fire up his base.
The Long Arc of Powerbuilding
These wins are the fruit of our efforts starting in 2017, investing in our candidates, their staff, and local partners. And we stand on the shoulders of year-round organizers like New Virginia Majority who have been at this work for well over a decade, laying the foundation for these momentous electoral wins. And our work does not end after Election Day. These victorious candidates will join our Purple District Network, designed specifically for legislators like them. Those who came up just short may be Future Winners. And as always, we will continue to tell the story about the power and promise of states.
What Comes Next
We will share additional analysis soon, and we encourage you to join us for our Post-Election Debrief Session on Thursday November 16 at 8PM ET. But in the meantime, take a minute to celebrate. These wins belong to our candidates, to movement leaders, to Virginia voters, to our volunteers, to our donors, and to you.