Ten minutes before election officials opened the doors at 6 a.m. to the polling place for Fairfax County Dranesville Precinct 320 in Northern Virginia, Democratic and GOP volunteers scurried about in the parking lot of the community center to set up their tents and have their stacks of sample ballots ready to hand out to voters. A line had already formed inside the building as early-bird Election Day 2023 voters prepared to cast their ballots on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Stakes are high at the state level in Virginia during this year’s midterm election and closely watched within the Commonwealth and nationally. Although Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s four-year term runs another two years and the office is not on the ballot, voters will decide which party controls each chamber of the General Assembly with all 140 seats on the ballot.
Virginia is one of only four states where all seats in the General Assembly are on the ballot for the first time since 2019. The Virginia legislature could see more turnover than usual, resulting from this being the first election under the new set of district maps.
According to an Oct. 17, 2023 survey by The Wason Center, at Christopher Newport University, “Virginia likely voters are split on whether they intend to support the Democratic or Republican Party's candidate in their district for the General Assembly (42 percent to 41 percent).”
In Virginia, Democrats currently control the Senate, by a 22-17 margin. To check Youngkin’s conservative GOP agenda, Democrats seek to maintain control of the Senate and hopefully flip the GOP-controlled House of Delegates, which Republicans won by a narrow margin in 2021, 52-48.
Youngkin is pushing to win full control of both the Virginia Senate and House. If Republicans manage to take control of both chambers, this would grant them a GOP trifecta, whereby the same party controls both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship. This would ensure that Governor Youngkin could move forward with his conservative agenda.
The Wason Center opined, “A strong showing for Republicans could provide a blueprint for the party nationally around how to discuss abortion and how to highlight K-12 education issues successfully. Some suggest that if Republicans have a particularly strong showing in the state’s elections, Governor Youngkin may consider a late entry to the Republican presidential primary.” The Wason Center reported the margin of error for the survey is +/-4.0 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.
At 11:15, 333 voters from precinct 320 at Herndon Community Center had voted, according to Kristin O’Brien, chief election officer.
Virginia Department of Elections will report results at https://enr.elections.virginia.gov/results/public/Virginia/elections/2023-Nov-Gen