22 May 2017
Republican icon Frank Wolf held an iron grip on the gerrymandered Virginia 10th District for 34 years, starting in 1980.
Wolf was so popular that Democrats didn’t even bother to run against him in 1994 and 2000. In other years, The pragmatic Wolf beat Democratic candidates by margins reaching almost 2:1.
Barbara Comstock, however, is no Frank Wolf. Despite inheriting Wolf’s political machine, she has won her two Congressional elections by a decreasing margin. Her margin of victory in 2016 was only 6%, the lowest GOP margin since Wolf’s first term in 1980 (see chart below).
A major difficulty for Comstock this cycle is that voters are now paying closer attention. The media is also starting to clue in on her her standard practice of evading important issues and casting politically safe votes only after the issues have already been decided. She is isolating herself from voters, refusing to hold a town hall, and attempting to pass off staged photo-ops as a substitute for genuine voter engagement.
Another major problem for Comstock: the GOP’s raw vote total in VA10 has been almost flat for thirty years, and has been declining since 2008 (see chart below.) The Republican trend line (shown in green) is relatively flat compared to the increasing number of Democratic voters shown in the blue trend line.
An unswerving allegiance to the beleaguered Trump administration presents another looming problem. Comstock has an almost perfect 96.7% voting record in support of Trump’s agenda in Congress, while her district voted for Hillary Clinton by an overwhelming margin.
Finally, there is a very clear evidence of strong Democratic turnout in recent special elections, including one in Prince William County which overlaps with Comstock’s district. In that election, Jackie Smith was outspent 7 to 1 and became the second Democrat in 18 months to win a countywide office after a twenty year dry spell.
With all of these trends converging it’s no wonder that Comstock has recently found her voice. Unfortunately for Barbara Comstock, the voters in her district have also found theirs.