Democrats Dominate Virginia’s Legislative Branch

Tuesday, Nov 5 marked a monumental event in Virginia state government history. As the polling results came in, history was made with the Democrats winning control over both legislative houses, an occurrence that has not happened in the last 25 years. The legislative branch is made up of the Senate and the House of Delegates comprised of 40 and 100 members respectively. The Democrats take the lead with a 21 to 19 lead in the State Senate and a 54 to 43 lead in the House. Across both houses, around 88 percent of the winning candidates were incumbent, or already holding that office. 

Despite the fact that Virginia was a largely red or Republican state, and has been from 1952 to 2004, in these recent years Virginia is now considered a swing state and has been voting more left leaning in the last few presidential elections. A large contributor to that is the increase in diversity of Virginia’s population in northern Va., where the cities are more densely packed compared to southern Va.’s less diverse voter range and spread out communities. This increase in diversity was reflected in the House & Senate candidates with more minority candidates running and winning than in any past Va. state election.  

This outcome of the election was especially important because Virginia will be redistricting its congressional districts this year. Each state legislative branch is in charge of redrawing their districts to make sure each Congressional representative represents the same number of people. Since the Democrats have control of  the legislative branch, they have say in how the districts will be redrawn. If the Republican party had won either part of the branch, they would not have had complete say in the redistricting process because the governor, Ralph Northam, is still a Democrat. 

Redrawing the Congressional districts has a major impact on the results of the Presidential election because it changes who is being represented. Although the main point of redistricting is to make sure the people are being represented equally, often times that isn’t what actually occurs. Usually parties in control of the legislative branch will redraw the districts to their party’s favor, which is referred to as gerrymandering. 

As time goes on, it’s expected the change in diversity of Va.’s representatives will continue to increase. This trend isn’t solely being seen in Virginia though, many other southern and usually considered red states, like Texas and Florida, have been seeing an increase in minority candidates being elected. Hopefully this will pave the path for more diversity in federal level offices, for representatives that actually represent the people.