Ballotpedia identified 13 races to watch in the Virginia House of Delegates 2017 elections: four Democratic seats and nine Republican seats. Based on analysis of these districts’ electoral histories, these races have the potential to be more competitive than other races and could possibly lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance. Heading into the general election, Republicans hold a 66-34 majority. Democrats would need to pick up 17 seats in order to take control of the chamber. Republicans would need to pick up one seat in order to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to override gubernatorial vetoes.
To determine state legislative races to watch in 2017, Ballotpedia looked for races that fit one or more of the four factors listed below:
- If the incumbent won less than 55 percent of the vote in the most recent election prior to 2017
- If the presidential candidate opposite of the incumbent’s party won the district in the 2016 elections and the incumbent’s margin of victory in the previous election was 10 percentage points or less
- If the presidential candidate opposite of the incumbent’s party won the district in the 2016 elections and the incumbent did not file to run for re-election
- If the presidential candidate opposite of the incumbent’s party won the district in the 2016 elections by 20 points or more
Other factors can also trigger a race to watch. For example, if an outside group or a national or state party announces that they are targeting a specific seat in order to flip it, then Ballotpedia may consider the race for that district as a race to watch. Similarly, if a race receives an unusual amount of media attention, Ballotpedia may also consider the race for that district as a race to watch. Two additional factors are open seats and districts impacted by redistricting.