Here’s a visualization of how Clinton/Trump did in Virginia courtesy of VPAP.
True, Clinton carried the Commonwealth by 72,000-ish votes (and Northern Virginia by 240,000-ish votes). Yet if one looks at SEN-22 numbers, you instantly see the uphill battle with which the Democratic challenger and former Fluvanna County Sheriff Ryant Washington has to contend.
That 15.4% spread is really a 13,325 vote chasm between Peake and Washington… or perhaps more accurately, between Washington and Richmond.
This isn’t to say that there is some room for prospective hope for the Democratic challenger. 26% of the district is African American. The special election is — perhaps — an instance where the Democrats could be looking for a pickup in a Virginia Senate where a 21-19 margin makes the difference between resurgency and irrelevancy. Could the Trump backlash begin early, a Democrat might hope?
Yet Peake holds all the advantages at this rate. The Virginia Senate Caucus is keenly aware of the balance and will do what they can to secure a win — not a blowout, but a win. Peake will more than likely continue riding the Trump wave just as Tom Garrett did into VA-05. What’s more, Peake not only hails from the right part of the district (Lynchburg, where the center of gravity remains), but is demonstrating the right sort of energy that would put cold water on any Democratic hopes.
Interesting to note in the VPAP numbers: SEN-22 (despite its 15 point gap between Clinton and Trump) was the third weakest State Senate district to go for Trump. SEN-11 with an 11.4% gap and SEN-08 at 8.9% were the two next weakest districts.
The closest district in the Democratic column? SEN-07 — with a mere 0.5% gap leaning in Clinton’s favor. Only 17 state senate seats went in favor of Trump in the Commonwealth. The other 23 went heavily in the direction of Clinton. Numbers that I am sure will cheer Virginia’s Senate Democrats, if for no other reason than they were drawn that way.