Happy Virginia primary day! Reflecting Democrats’ shifting power base, voters have nominated a statewide ticket entirely from NoVA. Virginia’s 11th district takes in a chunk of that territory. Even in just the past decade, this #DistrictOfTheDay has seen some big changes.
Northern Virginia used to be where all the Republicans of the D.C. area were concentrated. The modern-day problem for the GOP is that there just aren’t that many of them left. A large share of them were fairly moderate people who very quickly balked at their party’s changes.
It’s easy to forget considering what the numbers look like these days, but less than two decades ago this was a right-leaning seat. VA-11 was represented by Tom Davis, a Republican from 1995 to 2008. When he finally retired in a blue wave year, it was one of Dems’ easiest flips.
Gerry Connolly (D–Fairfax) has been the man who has benefitted from its change. Though he faced a very close election in 2010 (when many suburbs snapped back toward Republicans), he has since coasted to victory. In 2020, he won reelection with more than 70% of the vote.
I mentioned that many voters have switched their party alignments over time in NoVA, but an under-discussed reason that seats like VA-11 aren’t as conservative as they once were is diversification. People who still think of the region as being heavily White are completely misled.
This is now a majority-minority district, with Asian, Hispanic, and Black populations each making up at least 13% of the population. Coupled with the swing among well-educated voters (of all races), it’s no wonder VA-11 gave Biden more than 70% of the vote last year.
The largest share of votes comes from Fairfax County, the state’s largest jurisdiction. One of the wealthiest places in the country, Fairfax County went from voting for George W. Bush in 2000 to giving Joe Biden a victory of more than 40 points. That’s an Appalachia-level swing.
Fairfax County also happens to be the home of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate from 1754 to his death in 1789. Fairfax County is technically distinct from the much smaller Fairfax City, though they are both in VA-11. Virginia has a comical number of independent cities.
The rest of the vote comes from Prince William County, a fast-growing county to the south. As someone who drove through it just a few days ago, I genuinely sympathize with the people who have to make this part of their daily commute. The traffic in NoVA is unbelievable.
When you look at a map of counties that have flipped since 2000, there is tons of red. Fairfax County is geographically tiny, but it’s swung by nearly as much and by itself has a greater population than eight states. Its political shift should rightly be described as tectonic.

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More from @MattKleinOnline

8 Jun
Despite having a substantial border with Mexico, California’s 51st district is the only one in the state that runs along it. California’s border region is another important place where Hispanics exert a great deal of influence. They make up 70% of this #DistrictOfTheDay. Image
This seat was created in accordance with population shifts following the 1990 Census. Its heavy Hispanic presence is not new. Nearly 40% of the seat was Hispanic in 1992, and they became a majority by 2002. Despite that, it elected a White Democrat, Bob Filner, for two decades.
Filner ran in the district’s first primary against his old boss, Jim Bates, who had previously retired from Congress due to a sexual harassment scandal. Ironically, Filner would go on to have a similar scandal of his own that forced him to resign as mayor of San Diego in 2013.
Read 8 tweets
7 Jun
For decades, congressional elections in Indiana’s 8th district were so competitive and contentious that the seat was nicknamed “the Bloody Eighth.” In fact, one election to this #DistrictOfTheDay was so absurdly close that the House of Representatives had to decide the outcome. Image
The district’s most competitive era was between the 1960s and the 1980s. At the time, it frequently bounced between the parties. In the sixteen year span from 1966 to 1982, voters in this socially conservative, economically populist district knocked out four different incumbents.
The climax of this battle came in 1984, when the results were so indecisive the House of Representatives got involved in the decision. Ultimately, the Democratic-controlled chamber chose to seat Democrat Frank McCloskey, who they determined to have won by four votes.
Read 9 tweets
10 May
A very happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! My amazing mom happens to be from Pennsylvania, so I’ll cover her home state for our #DistrictOfTheDay. Pennsylvania’s 7th district is in a fascinating region of the state: the Lehigh Valley, a one-time industrial hub.
This seat is perhaps most famous for launching the career of Pat Toomey, now the state’s junior U.S. Senator. Toomey held it from 1999 to 2005, when he left it to attempt a primary vs. Senator Arlen Specter from the right in 2004. His bid failed, losing by less than two percent.
Lately, Toomey has been viewed as one of his party’s more rational actors: he voted to remove President Trump from office in 2021 and has tended to be critical of his rhetoric. That’s ironic - he was once considered to be among the more conservative candidates to run for Senate.
Read 10 tweets
9 May
Virginia is one of two states that will be seeing a regular gubernatorial race this year. Let’s familiarize ourselves with a part of the state that gets overlooked: Virginia’s 6th district. If the Republicans do pull off a victory, this #DistrictOfTheDay will be a key reason why.
As the Byrd machine monopolized state politics under Democratic rule, VA-06 was one of the first places to see its influence slip. It was in Republican hands from 1953 to 1983. After a brief period of control by Democrat Jim Olin, the seat has been reliably GOP since 1993.
For 26 years, this district was held by Bob Goodlatte, a Republican who rose through leadership and chaired two separate committees during his tenure. He led a highly unpopular secret effort to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics on day one of the 115th Congress in 2017.
Read 9 tweets
8 May
As Democrats ponder over last Saturday’s special election lockout, it’s important to remember how red many Texas suburbs remain. Places like Texas’s 26th district still give the party fairly wide margins of victory. That’s despite this #DistrictOfTheDay being dense and well-off. Image
This seat produced a powerful member of the U.S. House in Republican Dick Armey. He was elected in 1984 and served as the House Majority Leader from 1995 to 2003. As an author of the Contract with America, Armey was an architect of the 1994 Republican landslide.
Among his most problematic comments was calling gay House colleague Barney Frank “Barney Fag.” It briefly seemed as though Armey was on track to become Speaker after Newt Gingrich resigned, but he failed to assemble enough support amid frustration from hardcore conservatives.
Read 9 tweets
3 May
Ohio Democrats used to be competitive because of their showing with the state’s white working class. As those voters drift away, places like Ohio’s 9th district just haven’t given Dems the margins they need. And in this #DistrictOfTheDay, it seems their issues are worsening.
A number of Republicans were swept in on the coattails of Ronald Reagan in 1980, only to realize shortly thereafter that they weren’t as popular as they thought. In the case of OH-09, Ed Weber defeated an incumbent in 1980. But when 1982 rolled around, he got utterly obliterated.
Since 1983, OH-09 has been held by Marcy Kaptur (D–Toledo). She’s been in office so long that she’s on the cusp of making history by becoming the longest-serving woman in U.S. congressional history. If she wins again in 2022, she’ll best Barbara Mikulski’s 40-year record.
Read 10 tweets

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