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by Brandon Jarvis

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D) built a loyal army of die-hard supporters in the seventh congressional district in 2018 which followed her to a successful reelection bid in 2020. The core of her base hails from Chesterfield and Henrico, however, which was removed from the district when new lines were drawn late last year.

Now she has to build a new base in a district that should actually be more friendly to Democrats than the old seventh, in general.

The new district is 34% Prince William County, a northern Virginia locality that has continued to shift blue in recent years. Stafford and Spotsylvania also make up a large part of the district along with eight other localities. (Including 97 voters from Albermarle.)

146,365 voters from the previous seventh district remain in the new seventh. 257,530 voters come from the previous first district, 154,430 from the previous eleventh district, and 26,911 from the previous fifth district.

The new seventh district voted for Hillary Clinton by 3 points in 2016, Northam (D) by 6 points in 2017, and Kaine (D) by 13 points in 2018.

However, the stat that likely keeps Spanberger’s staff awake at night is that the district voted for Republican Glenn Youngkin by 5 points in 2021.

Richard Meagher, a political science professor at Randolph Macon College says those numbers shouldn’t worry the Spanberger campaign too much, however. “We probably shouldn’t put too much into the Youngkin numbers. The further we get away from the gubernatorial election, the worse McAuliffe’s campaign looks, and I don’t think we should treat a +5 Youngkin margin as anything like a default in that district,” Meagher said Thursday. “Spanberger is by this point a 2-term member with a huge war chest and name recognition across the state; I think you have to think of her as the incumbent in this district despite having 80% of new voters.”

She is facing the prospect of several Republican challengers including state Sen. Bryce Reeves, Prince William Supervisor Yesli Vega, Stafford Supervisor Crystal Vanuch, Gina Garcia, and Derrick Anderson.

One potential other problem for Spanberger is that the Republican candidates hail from the new district while she still resides in the first district as a resident of Henrico. Meagher also doesn’t view this as a big issue for the congresswoman, however. “Spanberger may live outside the district, at least for now, but I don’t know how much that will matter,” he said. “Many partisan voters like to think they are strategic in their votes, and partisanship and ideology has overwhelmed other candidate factors in recent elections. In other words, most Virginia Democrats will vote for a solid Democrat even if she lives in Alaska.”

The official Republican nominee will be chosen by a primary in June.

(Numbers for district comparisons provided by VPAP)

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By vascope

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