With Republicans running the same playbook in REDMAP 2020, and Democrats countering with a well-funded redistricting scheme of their own, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), the 2017 Virginia election was both the first and one of the most important battlegrounds between the two efforts. According to Kelly Ward, the executive director of the NDRC, “a good portion of the Democratic disadvantage in Congress boils down to seven states,” many of which have seats and governorships on the table in 2018. “You have Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania,” Ward says. “If Democrats can win those seats, then we have a seat at the table during the redistricting process.”
What Ward’s group needed to block a power play by Republicans in Virginia was a win in the governor’s mansion or at least a stalemate in the statehouse. She might’ve gotten both and more. Northam’s single term will take him through the redistricting cycle. With somewhere between 15 and 19 seats flipped in the state legislature (pending recounts), Democrats might even control the House of Delegates for now, while Republicans still hold a slim advantage in the state Senate. But the real test again comes in 2019, when all of the seats in both the House of Delegates and the Senate will be up for grabs in a final round of jockeying for mapmaking.
Read more: The Atlantic, November 9, 2017