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2015 Virginia General Election

On November 3, 2015, the Commonwealth of Virginia held a general election for several state and local offices, including all 140 seats in the General Assembly, the oldest continuous elected legislative body in the Americas formed in 1619. Residents of the City of Alexandria also voted for a new city council, including a mayor and six other council members elected at-large. This election allows us to consider politics from a largely neighborhood perspective as we head into the headier 2016 presidential elections.

 

Virginia Senate

Those of us who live at Watergate of Alexandria are in Virginia’s 30th senatorial district (there are 40 districts in all), which includes:

• The easternmost neighborhoods of Alexandria (Arlandria, Del Ray, Mount Vernon, North Ridge/Rosemont, Old Town, Parkfairfax, Parker Gray and Seminary Hill).

• The Mount Vernon neighborhoods within Fairfax County (Belle Haven, Belle View, Groveton, Huntington and Hybla Valley).

• Several neighborhoods in the southeastern part of Arlington County (Arlington Ridge, Arlington View, Aurora Highlands, Aurora Hills, Claremont, Columbia Forest, Columbia Heights, Crystal City, Douglas Park, Fairlington and Nauck).

In the 2015 election, district voters elected Adam Ebbin to a second consecutive 4-year term to the Senate (he previously served for 8 years in the House of Delegates). On election day, there were 138,138 registered voters in the 30th senatorial district, including 56,631 Alexandria residents (41%), 41,879 Fairfax residents (30%), and 39,628 Arlington residents (29%).

Mr. Ebbin, a Democrat running against an Independent Green candidate, received 27,207 (77%) of the 35,463 votes cast in 2015 (26% of all registered voters), which is more than the 65% of the total vote that he received in 2011 running against a Republican candidate.

There are 242 voting precincts in Virginia, including 27 precincts in Alexandria. Watergate residents are assigned to vote in Precinct 101 at the Ladrey Senior Building. In 2015, Mr. Ebbin received 541 (78%) of the 698 votes cast in Precinct 101 for his office.

Given that approximately 8.3 million people reside in Virginia and each state senatorial district should have an average population of around 277,000, Mr. Ebbin was re-elected to office by about 10% of the people living in his district and 20% of the registered voters there.

 
Virginia House of Delegates

We are in Virginia’s 45th house district (100 districts total), which includes:

• 14 precincts in Alexandria (generally encompassing the neighborhoods of Old Town, Del Ray and Northridge/Rosemont).

• 2 precincts in Fairfax (Belle View and Huntington).

• 5 precincts in Arlington (Aurora Hills, Fairlington, Abingdon, Oakridge and Shirlington).

In the 2015 election, district voters elected Mark Levine to his first 2-year term to the House of Delegates. On election day, there were 62,287 registered voters in the 45th house district, including 45,808 Alexandria residents (74%), 4,657 Fairfax residents (7%), and 11,822 Arlington residents (19%).

Mr. Levine, a Democrat running unopposed, received 15,987 (95%) of the 16,814 votes cast (27% of all registered voters). He received 600 (95%) of the 634 votes cast in Precinct 101.

Given that each state house district should have an average population of around 83,000, Mr. Levine was elected to office by about 19% of the people living in the district and 26% of the registered voters in the district. By electoral measures, Mr. Levine enjoys a higher level of support from his constituents than does Mr. Ebbin.

 
 
 

Alexandria City Council

For the 2015 election, 93,943 of Alexandria’s 150,000 residents were registered to vote (75% of all voting-age adults), and 26,256 of them (28% of registered voters and 21% of eligible adults) did vote.

City voters elected Allison Silberberg to her first term as mayor (overcoming a write-in campaign challenge by her immediate predecessor), and elected Justin Wilson, John Chapman, Paul Smedberg, Redella “Del” Pepper, Timothy Lovain and Willie Bailey to the city council. Under Virginia law, state election ballots do not identify candidates by party affiliation, but these seven successful candidates ran for office as Democrats. The chart to the left shows the winners’ respective vote counts in descending order.  It also shows how the voters in Precinct 101 voted (absentee ballots are tallied separately and not included here).

The mayor and other members of the city council are elected to 3-year terms. By tradition, the city council will choose Mr. Wilson, who received the most votes among the council members, to serve as Vice Mayor.

Comparing the voting data for our precinct against the citywide voting data, it appears that Mayor Silberberg is slightly more popular in our precinct than in the city-at-large, Councilman Smedberg is as popular on a percentage basis but more popular on a ranked basis, and the remaining five council members are all less popular. Also, Precinct 101 voters would have elected Republican Bob Wood to the city council instead of Democrat Willie Bailey.  For a breakdown of 2015 city campaign spending, see the entry for Week 7 (February 8-14, 2016) on the Local Headlines page of this website.

A Few Final Thoughts on the 2015 Election

Political gerrymandering works and incumbency rules! For the first time, every incumbent running for re-election in the General Assembly won his or her race.   The Democratic Party failed in its efforts to retake control of the 40-seat Senate by winning an additional seat, and the Republican Party retained its 21-19 advantage (Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, would have provided the tie-breaking vote in an evenly split 20-20 upper chamber).

However, the Democrats narrowed their lopsided deficit in the House by one seat to 66-34 in favor of the Republicans. This result is interesting for two reasons. First, in the short term, the Republicans just lost their veto-proof majority in the House, giving term-limited Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe added political leverage with two years left in office. Second, in the long term, the manner in which the Democrats picked-up their additional House seat -- winning two open races in Fairfax and Loudoun, losing an open race in Prince William, and hoping that a very close re-battle/re-election (following a vacancy-filling special-election) win in Fairfax does not go to a recount and loss -- confirms that Northern Virginia has become a key electoral linchpin for political success in the Commonwealth and, through Virginia’s 13 prized winner-take-all swing-state electoral votes, the country.

 

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