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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Virginia Bellwether for Nation

For most of this election season, this blog has talked about two races - VA05 and VA09.  Those two featured the highest profile races where State Senator Robert Hurt won a bruising primary for the chance to take on endangered one term incumbent Tom Perriello.  The other race featured House of Delegates Majority Leader Morgan Griffith taking on 28 year incumbent Rick Boucher.  Just days before Griffith jumped in the race, the NRA made an unprecedented February endorsement for Boucher.  It is generally understood that Boucher sought the early endorsement because he knew that Griffith would be a tough challenger - one who has an excellent pro-rights record in the General Assembly.

But there was always the race in VA02 that was also going to be an opportunity for the Republicans to pick up a seat they had held since the late Owen Pickett retired in 2000.  That race features incumbent Glenn Nye and businessman Scott Rigell.  Rigell also won a spirited primary in June. 

Conventional wisdom held that Rigell and Hurt had a good shot to take back two long time GOP held seats because the districts are conservative (though VA02 barely went for Obama in 2008).   The 9th went big for McCain in 2008 but Boucher won with no opposition.  When he has been opposed in presidential years, Boucher would win while the district went Republican.  He even survived the last GOP wave of 1994.  But this year, he would have to defend his vote for Cap and Trade which most believe would further destroy his coal field district.

The final race that has gained notoriety is the rematch in VA11 between challenger Keith Fimian and Congressman Gerald "Gerry" Connolly.  The first indication that Connolly was in trouble was when he bucked his party and voted for congress to stay in session and deal with the expiration of the "Bush Tax Cuts."  NRA also has a field representative  working in the district to oversee activities for gun owner volunteers.  NRA has endorsed Fimian.

So, for those who are wonder just how big a night the GOP will have, here is my prediction based on Virginia races.  If Rigell (VA02) and Hurt (VA05) win, it is a good night for the GOP as they start to take back some of the seats lost over the last four years in conservative leaning districts.  As the night goes on, should Fimian (VA11) be added to the list of wins the wave has hit the shore and the predictions of 55 GOP pick-ups made by the well known prognosticators are well within reach.  Finally, if Boucher loses to Griffith (VA09), the hurricane has come ashore.

For some perspective, political analyst Charlie Cook has both the 2nd and 5th districts leaning GOP as both challengers have small leads of about 5 points.  Cook has the 11th a tossup with Connolly leading by 2 points and the 9th a tossup with Griffith up by 11 (though I don't know if the Cook's numbers are correct in the 9th as most polls have shown the numbers flipped).  Real Clear Politics lists the four the same as Cook.  The latest Survey USA poll has Griffith up by 1 point on Boucher.  Jim Geraghty has the 2nd, 5th and 11th going to the challengers and Boucher hanging on in the 9th.

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