GOP-leaning House District May Be in Play for Democrats

Virginia Del. Carrie Coyner, R-Chesterfield, left, talks with Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, during the House session at the Capitol Tuesday Feb. 22, 2022, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Carolyn Fiddler

August 22, 2023

A new poll shared with The Dogwood reveals a Republican incumbent’s weakness.

All 100 House of Delegates seats on the ballot in Virginia this year, and both Democrats and Republicans have zeroed in on a handful of seats that will determine control of the chamber.

But a new poll shared with The Dogwood by a source close to the House Democratic Caucus suggests that the path to victory for Democrats this fall might be even broader than previously thought.

Republican Del. Carrie Coyner has spent the past four years representing much of her new district, which stretches from Petersburg to Richmond’s southern suburbs, but her constituents appear to be warming to her Democratic opponent, Army veteran and community activist Stephen Miller-Pitts.

An internal poll by Clarity Campaign Labs fielded earlier this month reveals that, despite her incumbency and substantial financial advantage, Coyner leads Miller-Pitts in favorability just 46-44% – within the poll’s margin of error – indicating that this race is closer than either party anticipated.

House District 75, which stretches from Petersburg to Richmond’s southern suburbs, went for Biden over Trump 52-47% in 2020 and for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAuliffe 54-46% in 2021. Its recent voting history placed it just outside of the top tier of seats both parties are looking to keep or flip, but this poll may indicate that HD-75 is in play for Democrats – or at the very least, that seats that looked safe for the GOP will be tougher to hold than previously thought.

Virginia Democrats are already working to capitalize on Coyner’s apparent weakness; the House campaign arm is rolling out a new ad highlighting her opposition to reproductive rights

Even if this narrow favorability gap fails to translate into a flipped seat for Democrats, the weakness of a two-term incumbent in a fairly safe seat suggests that Republicans may face a tremendous challenge in keeping majority control of the state House this fall.  

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.


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