Democrat Jennifer Wexton beat out two-term Republican Barbara Comstock to represent Virginia’s 10th congressional district.
“[District 10] was one of the only districts in 2016 that went for Hillary (Clinton) but elected a republican member of congress, Barbara Comstock, in 2016.” explained Jeremy Mayer, an associate professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government.
Mayer said that means there was some “ticket splitting,” in the 10th district in 2016.
“[If district 10] is a bellwether, what it signals for the rest of the nation is the declining number of voters who are willing to split their tickets. Voting republican at one level, democratic at another. There’s further evidence of growing polarization in America,” said Mayer.
Throughout her campaign, Wexton worked to paint Comstock as a Trump ally. In ads, she called her “Barbara Trump-stock,” a phrase her supporters eagerly adopted.
Whereas Comstock, sought to distance herself from Trump.
“Barbara Comstock separated herself from Trump as much as any person in the congress who wasn’t actually calling him names.” Mayer said.
Despite Comstock’s efforts, Mayer believes the association was too much, in the affluent D.C. suburbs; full of many federal workers and contractors who dislike the president, and voted against Comstock.
“This is a woman who understands how to run in this District and in Virginia, and she’s run twice before, and this time, frankly — it wasn’t even close. And what that shows is the ground shifted under her feet,” said Mayer.
The “shift” he’s referencing includes more than just a new administration. Comstock’s former district has been changing for years — one of the reasons she was a top target for democrats.
“What is up in this district as is up in many suburban districts is the number of immigrants and minority voters.” Mayer said.
It is typical for the party in power to lose seats in midterms.
“….but the size of this wave — it is the largest swing to democrats since 1974 in any midterms election. So, that’s a pretty big surge for the democratic party. But, what republicans can look to, is gaining seats in the senate.” Mayer said.