How Republican Barbara Comstock won the northern Virginia House race
The current House Representative for Virginia's 10th district is Republican Frank Wolf. This is Frank Wolf's 17th and last term as House Representative. When he retires in 2015, he will have served 34 years. This district was a very conservative district, but in the past several years, it has turned into a moderately conservative district. Frank Wolf has dominated the elections for over 30 years, often winning with over 70 percent of the vote. In recent years, northern Virginia has been diversifying and Frank Wolf's winning percentage in elections has often dropped to under 60%, and as low as 57%.
This open seat gave a fresh start for both parties. Republican candidate Barbara Comstock was facing Democrat candidate John Foust. Polls showed early in the campaign that the race was a toss-up or competitive. At best Comstock was only looking to win by a few points. Even if Comstock won the election, if the Democrats can limit her votes to under 54% in this mid-term election favoring Republicans, that would be a good opportunity for the Democrats to take back the seat in the 2016 Presidential elections favoring Democrats.
John Foust started off well by picturing Barbara Comstock as a radical right-wing extremist. He aired ads showing how Comstock wants to severely restrict abortion rights. However, women voters, especially unmarried women, did not come out in great numbers this election, and these anti-woman charges against Comstock gained no merit. Then in August, John Foust made a mistaken statement by saying Comstock never had a "real job". Barbara Comstock successfully turned that statement into critical ads against Foust. Comstock successfully tied that statement as an attack on working women of all types. Foust's ratings dropped in the polls, especially among women, and in the final election, Comstock soundly defeated Foust, 56.5% to 40.4%.
It was the women voters, or the failure for the Democrats to win the women voters, that led to this defeat. It was also a very expensive race, with Comstock raising $3 million and Foust raising $2.1 million. Barbara Comstock had to take out $550,000 in personal loans for this expensive race, and with a House salary of $174,000, it's going to take a while to recover those loans. But it's a victory, and donors and supporters will be more eager to help out, and gives her a tremendous head start in the 2016 elections.
For Democrats, this House seat is still in play for 2016. Comstock didn't win as dominantly as Frank Wolf used to, and if Foust didn't make blunders, the race would be much closer. The district continues to diversify and the voters of 2016 should be more Democratic friendly. But your candidate has to be careful what they say and how they act.