A VETERAN’S PERSPECTIVE
By Michael Schoelwer, USMC
Whether Virginia pivots Republican or Democrat in 2024 will be determined by the election outcomes in Virginia’s three swing congressional districts: the 2nd, 7th, and 10th. As the swingareas, they will also likely determine the outcome of the state-wide races for U.S. Senator and the Presidential electors.
Given the razor-thin margins of the majority in the Senate and the impact of the White House, that means these Virginia elections will play a large role in which party controls the Congress and the White House; as Virginia goes, so goes the Nation. By the way, these swing areas are also where most of the circa 125,000 active-duty personnel, their families, and circa 750,000 veterans in Virginia live and vote.
The 2nd Congressional District leans Republican, but the elections are always close and hotly contested. Incumbent Rep. Jen Kiggans (R) is running for her third term. Virginia Beach makes up almost 60% of the District’s electorate. Of all of Virginia’s Congressional Districts, it has the highest concentration of active-duty military members and veterans.
With no incumbent this year and neither political party dominating, the 7 th Congressional District is up for grabs. This race is likely to be one of the most expensive in the country in 2024. And, with 7 Republican and 4 Democratic candidates for the nomination, it is also one of the most unpredictable races. Stafford and Spotsylvania counties and southeastern Prince William County have 72% of the registered voters.
Virginia’s third swing area is the 10 th Congressional District. It leans Democrat, but, with no incumbent, the election is uncertain. So far, 2 Republicans and 12 Democrats have announced their candidacy for the nomination. Loudoun and western Prince William County have the lion’s share of the district’s voting strength, with just shy of 80% of the registered voters.
The 2024 race for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat up this year will pit incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine against one of the 8 candidates for the Republican nomination. Sen. Kaine beat his last Republican opponent in the 2018 election by 536,000 of the circa 3.3 million votes cast. For his part, Sen. Mark Warner (D) beat his Republican opponent in 2020 by the same margin of circa 4.4 million votes cast. The common trend in both races, consistent with the other Federal races in Virginia for the past 5 years, is that Democrats dominated in Arlington and Alexandria, Richmond, and most of the Hampton Roads urban areas, while Republicans dominated in many of the suburbs and the rural areas.
The bottom line to all of this is that Virginia is a bellwether State this year; as goes Virginia, so goes the nation. Of 134 counties in cities in Virginia, it all turns on 8 to 10 of them. Those 8-10 counties coincide almost exactly where almost all of our active duty and veterans live and vote. If, as a veteran, you want to decide how the nation is going to go, you can do it this year especially – but only if you go vote.