winchester elections

Election Day Live Blog – 2019


9:30pm: The Democrats will also flip the House of Delegates. Going into the new year the party will now control every lever of government in the state. We will have to wait until later tonight and tomorrow to know how many seats they gain in each. That, on top of a somewhat shocking win (though razor close) in Kentucky’s governor’s race,  it’s a good to great result for Democrats tonight.

For me, I’m grabbing some tea and reading a book before getting a good night’s rest. Thanks for following along.


9:18pm: 6 of 7 precincts reporting in Winchester. Will Garnder will likely beat Tara Helsely by about 6-8%. The YES on school board elections is going to pass by about 30%


9:15pm: About 1/2 of precincts in, and in Frederick Co. my guess is that Sheriff Millholland is reelected comfortably by about 10-15%


9:06pm:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


9:01pm: The KY Governor’s race is going to finish in a nailbiter. 99% in. The Democrat Beshear is ahead by about 10,000 votes (about .5%)


9:00pm: 4 out of 7 precincts reporting. Gardner lead by about 11% over Helsley. YES vote is up big.


8:53pm: The first Winchester precinct in IN. THe YES vote is way ahead. Gardner wins it by 7% over Helsley.


8:51pm: UPDATE on the “Dear God That Candidate Must Lose” election. John Gray indeed HAS lost. The new Chairwoman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors in Democrat Ann Wheeler, who beat the asinine John Gray by nearly 20%. Yay!


8:40pm:  With about 1/3 of the precincts in, Sheriff Millholland is up by about 11%. He’s probably safe for another 4 years.


8:36pm:

“In my first week as governor, I’ll sign an executive order that automatically restores voting rights for Kentuckians with felony convictions who have completed their sentences.” -Andy Beshear


8:33pm:  Many many Virginia races left to call, but right now its looking like a 90% plus chance that Democrats also take the House. The race that was a literal tie  last time around (and had to be decided by random draw) was just won by the Democrat 50-48%


8:32pm: Sheriff Millholland is ahead with a few precincts in. At quick glance, those are some of the most conservative precincts. I think he may be in better shape than I guessed at earlier in the morning.


8:28pm: Sheriff Millholland took the first precinct reporting in Fred. Co. with 53% of the vote.


8:22pm: Some have just called the Kentucky race for Democrat Andy Beshear. I’d say it’s not 100% locked down yet, but hard to see how Bevin makes this up.

This is a huge win for the Democratic candidate. However, I’d caution too much extrapolation from this one race. Bevin was historically unpopular, and other down ballot Republicans did well in the state. There will be a lot to draw from this, particularly analyzing what types of voters switched from one candidate to the other. But it’s slightly more complicated than just voters automatically voting against Republican.


8:17pm: 86% in and Beshear leads by 2.7% in Kentucky.


8:13pm: With about 75% of the vote in, Democrat Beshear looks to be ahead by about 1%. This was always possible, but I’ll admit to be surprised if he pulls it off.


8:03pm: Ben Tribbett is already calling it official that the Democrats will take control of the Virginia Senate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


7:57pm: Democrat Gooditis is doing well so far in trying to hold onto her seat that she took from R- Minchew in a rematch. (Though it looks like those results are Loudoun (safe D area), so there’s still time for Minchew to make a comeback).

 

 

 

 


7:55pm: Virginia results will be slow to come in. Many voters are still standing in line waiting to vote with ballot issues and other problems. (Hang in there!). But KY is looking to be a tight race (don’t worry about totals being shown on CNN, etc. just yet; it’s closer than the 8 point Bevin lead).

There is a growing rural suburban/urban divide. BUT, there are still swing areas and swing voters. It’s important not to forget that as we move into a Presidential election. For example, The Democratic nominee for Governor, Beshear, just won a county in Kentucky that voted for Trump by 45%. Individual candidates and issues can matter. (Beshear is seen as a popular moderate who’s father was a former governor).


7:46pm:

 

 

 

 


7:35pm: The Virginia Department of Elections results page is now down so, Eeeek. Let’s hope they get that back up shortly.


7:22pm: A few outlets have just called Jill Vogl (R) the winner over Ronnie Ross (D) in our area’s GA Senate race. This was expected. Of course, this is not official.


7:22pm: As we wait for first Virginia numbers to come in. I’d say the first hour of poll results for KY governor is pretty good for Democrat Beshear. They don’t show that he’ll win, BUT they don’t show that he’s basically lost already (which you’d typically expect in these races). He WON Bath County, which was the one early prediction of the tipping point county. Soooo, we’ll see…


7:02pm: Bath County, the bellweather in KY is all in. Democrat Beshear wins it with 51% of the vote, winning it by 6%. It’s lo overalloking like it might come down to a nailbiter in this race, some good news for both candidates early on.


7:00pm: Polls closed in Virginia


6:59pm: This is the main liberal part of the state (outside Louisville and Cincinnati suburbs). Conway is the D candidate who lost by 9 points 4 years ago. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see like so many of these races, this cushion not to be enough. There are simply more strong Republican partisans throughout the state.

 

 

 

 

 


6:51pm: There’s a chance Beshear eeks it out by running up huge, huge margins in his strongholds that Bevin can’t offset. In the most recent elections, Republicans have been able to fend off surges in liberal bastions by having equal or bigger surges in rural areas.

 

 

 


6:47pm: If Beshear somehow pulls out a win in Kentucky, one of the biggest policy changes may mean that 5% of the entire state could have their voting rights restored. The same is at stake in Virginia, with Democratic controlled opening the door to increased voters. This would come at a critical time for both states with redistricting right around the corner.


6:41pm:

 

 

 


6:31pm: This is the bellweather county for Kentucky. Very Very Very early, but decent sign for Democrat Beshear.

6:28pm: First full county result in Kentucky: Harlan, which Bevin takes with 57%. By comparison, he got 62% here in 2015.

6:20pm: As the results are set to come in, I predict: Republicans keep both Kentucky and Mississippi governor’s offices. Democrats flip both Houses in Virginia (+2 seats in Senate and +5 seats in House). There will be a lot of useless punditry chatter about how “impeachment talk” stirred up the R base in the red states and prevented a D landslide. Overall, I think this would be a solid result for Democrats.

It will be a long time until we get overwhelming landslides for either side in this partisan environment.


6:10pm: These are good tiers of what will likely be considered  Bad, OK, Good, and Great results for Democrats tonight:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


6:05pm: Virginia turnout will be the highest ever for an Off Off election (No Gov. or Pres. on ballot)

 

 

 

 


6:00pm: Polls closed in KY


5:55pm: The Governor’s race in Mississippi is getting a good amount of coverage as well. But realistically, it would take a complete landslide for the Democrat Hood to beat out the current Lt. Gov. Reeves in that race.

Even then, Mississippi has a weird law on the books that the Governor must not only win the popular vote but also a majority of Congressional districts in the state. Because of the MS gerrymander its difficult to envision Hood ever doing that. It’s an old rule meant to limit of power of minority candidates packed into fewer districts. If Hood wins the popular vote, that law would absolutely be challenged, and the state would likely have a legal battle to actually decide the next Governor.


5:45pm: Kentucky polls close in 15 minutes. Some precinct data in the Governor’s race is likely to be the first thing that comes out.


4:30pm: All this talk about VA Democrats taking control of the General Assembly, but what would that actually mean? Potentially, a lot. The Democrats already control the executive, and so the small  Republican majority in the GA is what has previously been stopping many bills from becoming law. Some potential changes may include:

  1. Passage of federal equal right amendment
  2. LGBT protections in housing and employment
  3. Marijuana legalization
  4. Expansion of voting rights: automatic registration, disenfranchisement reforms

3:40pm: I forgot to mention something earlier about the Frederick County Sheriff’s race.  While the county’s 30%+ lean suggest that Sibert is in a good position in the Sheriff’s race, many voter’s may not remember which candidate is the Republican.

Under Virginia Code, only federal, statewide, and General Assembly races include a party designation on the ballot. I wouldn’t be surprised if many voters in Frederick County known Millholland‘s name, see his public support, and have no idea that the other candidate is the one running on the Republican ticket. This gives him a fighting chance.

The same could also affect the Gardner vs. Helsely race in Winchester city. But there has been a bit more public connection of Gardner as the D and Helsely as the R when compared to the Sheriff’s race. The no party designation issue gives the biggest boon, I think, to incumbents, because their name is already known. It’s less a factor in races like the Clerk’s when neither side would have as much a natural name advantage.

 

 

 

 

 

 


3:15pm: As the votes comes in later this evening, keep in mind that the raw numbers can be VERY close in local and even General Assembly races. Just a few votes very often decide some contests.

Many forget that control of the current Virginia House of Delegates was decided by a coin toss. One race was literally tied, and it was decided by the drawing of a lot. The Republican won the drawing, giving the party control of the House 51-49. If the random draw went differently, Dems and Republicans would have shared power, 50-50.

That means that every individual resident in that district, had they voted differently, would have shifted power in the entire state. It really can be that close. And the odds increase even more with local races for Clerk, Sheriff, or ballot referendum.


3:05pm: The other “local” race that I’ll be following is the ballot petition to switch from an appointed to elected school board members in Winchester City. This is a very odd duck, because the coalitions on this one are all over the place. The most liberal and most conservative residents that I know of support the change (though for different reasons). Those aligning with the NO campaign are more moderates and the “establishment” of Winchester. Because of that, the NO campaign has been a bit more outwardly public. But, I don’t think it will be enough to stop it.

It’s a complex issue with reasonable arguments on both sides. Most voters won’t have thought through all of the specifics of the proposal, instead going with their gut. And while sitting in a voting booth, looking at a question asking if voters should pick the school board, most will bubble in Yes without deep consideration. It seems reasonable and natural. I think this one passes.


2:48pm: Many eyes on Kentucky’s governor’s race tonight. This is what a red state looks like; FiveThirtyEight has it as R+23. But there is genuinely, honestly, god-help-us a chance that the Democrat Beshear pulls off a win against a highly unpopular incumbent. When the results come in tonight, everyone will be looking at the one county highlighted in yellow..Bath County…its the one that will be closest to the overall state vote. If Beshear seems to be doing well there, it may indicate a good night for him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2:36pm:

 

 

 

 


2:20pm: The race for Frederick County Sheriff is far harder to pick apart. On the face of it, challenger Allen Sibert should be in a strong position as the Republican candidate in a county that is overwhelmingly conservative. In 2016, Trump won the county by 35%. The following year, Gillespie won the area Governor’s race by 30% even though he lost the state overall by 9%. Last year, Barbara Comstock won by 29% even while losing the district by 10%.

Frederick County tilts Republican by 30% or more.

But Sibert is running against a well known incumbent Independent in Lenny Millholland. If Millholland had a D next to his name, he would have no hope of keeping his seat (or having won it in the first place). There is a large well of support for the current Sheriff, but it’s a hard ask to have that personal affection overcome the raw partisan factors in the County. He first won in 2015-the pre-Trump age- when it was a 3 way race. Millholland took 44.4% of the vote compared to the Republican’s 39.3% and a second independent grabbing 16%.

I do not know Allen Sibert personally, but his campaign seemed to press very hard on the typical Trump-Republican themes. While that turns off some, it was probably a solid strategy in trying to knock off an independent in Frederick County.

This is a clear test of whether some personal, local factors can still overcome the partisan reality of today’s hyper-polarized Trump America. If I had to bet now, I’d say the partisanship wins out here and the R next to Siberts name is enough. But maybe I’m too pessimistic.


2:00pm: How will the local elections go? We have no polling, so the tea leaves are always a bit harder to read. Plus, local races can vary wildly depending on local factors. In Winchester City, the contested race is for Clerk (Gardner-D vs. Helsely-R). Both candidates are well known in the area, none have any “scandal” esque blunders or high-profile errors.

Because of that, our best guesses would typically come down to the general partisan makeup of the city. That would seem to be better news for Gardner. In 2016, Winchester residents voted for Hillary Clinton by 3.5% (48.4%-44.9%). One year later, the Democratic lead jumped further, with Democrat Ralph Northam winning in the city by 9% (53.7%-44.7%). Then last year, Democrat Jennifer Wexton won her Congressional race in Winchester by about 8% (54%-46%).

That suggests that in generic races, Winchester city is probably now about  5-9% Lean Democratic. Tara Helsely will need to overcome that partisan lean to win. I don’t think it’s impossible, and because of her long roots in the city, she may have a shot at gaining the vote of a chunk of voters who might otherwise vote Democrat. Also, flat out campaign work can make a big difference in local races. I’d say that Will Gardner is a slight favorite to win this, but its far from a guarantee.


1:40pm: When live in a time when politics trumps everything. Passions remain ultra-hot, and there is always the feeling that you need to do everything possible to “fight the fight” tilt the scales to your side. This is not just on the #Resist side of the aisle:

 

 

 

 


1:13pm: This is the first “off off” year election in the Trump era. Off Off just means that there is no Presidential election OR Gubernatorial election. Typically these has the lowest turnout of any race in the 4 year cycle. BUT, as we’ve seen everywhere since 2016, political interest is skyrocketing (on both sides of the aisle). The early vote numbers this year bear it out, as the turnout is going to far and away be the highest ever for an Off Off year.

Typically, this would be good news for Democrats, whose voters tend to be less consistent. Democrats usually overperform when turnout is better. BUT, that doesn’t hold up as much anymore, because conservatives are now also extra-enthusiastic. In the past, more overall voters meant more D voters. Now, more voters means more Ds  as well as more Rs who are fired up for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

 


1:10pm: There are many reports like this…strong voter turnout in precincts in certain areas that in the past were strong R or strong D. BUT, this often misses the fact that we are going through a realignment now. Some areas becoming much more conservative, others more liberal. Therefore, a large surge in some area that was previously a strong R precinct may in fact be surging because of a realignment in the other direction. For example, these precincts here are historically won by Rs, BUT they have been “trending” the other direction, and so the surge could be bad news for Rs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


12:53pm: This cycle’s “Dear God That Candidate Must Lose” election is chairman of Virginia’s Prince William County Board of Supervisors (2nd largest in Virginia, former conservative bastion now trending more liberal). Keep an eye on this one, so that hopefully our faith in humanity can be boosted a tad if (when?) John Gray loses to Ann Wheeler…

Here’s snippets from the Washington Post’s editorial on the election:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tweets from Mr. Gray are by turns unedifying, uninformed, false and inane, with some crass sophomoric sexual commentary — he “shrivels” at the thought of “doing the deed” with Hillary Clinton — and smirky racism thrown in for good measure. African Americans, Mr. Gray suggested, might take a knee and stop “rioting” if someone would only play the national anthem. […]

People who are non-Christians are a special target of tweeted contempt for Mr. Gray, an accountant in his late 60s . He labeled Gary Johnson “a moron” when the Republican-turned-Libertarian former New Mexico governor sent his best wishes to Indians on Diwali, a festival celebrated by a billion or so Hindus. Muslim men, he asserted falsely, have “the right to beat” their wives.

Then there’s Mr. Gray’s judicious take on impeaching President Trump, whose advocates — “bong and dildo holders,” he asserts — would be met with “300 million weapons and an estimated 2 billion rounds of ammo.”


12:38pm: Worth sharing every year (this is from 2017). Woman casts her first vote ever:

 

 

 

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11:59am: In Winchester-Frederick Co., neither our house or senate seats are expected to flip. Most prediction models have Collins & Vogel keeping the seats handily, but surprises are not impossible. Even with losses, it will be interesting to see if the Ds can break into the low or mid 40s, or get stuck in the usual mid to high 30s.

Most of the seats that the Ds are hoping to flip to take control are in more urban districts in NoVa, Hampton-VB, and Richmond. There are still a good chunk of districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but are still represented by Republicans at the state level. Some of those may flip tonight, and that would be the difference.


11:50am: Stuff like this happens way too much.  Yikes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


11:40am: Turnout numbers in some GOP areas are also now increasing. Throughout the day, discussions about turnout’s potential effect on the election are very rough and often misleading. It’s all just based on precinct numbers–with each precinct roughly labeled either D-strong or R-strong. Watchers literally count the number of voters as they come in and compare that to the numbers who came in at the same time in previous elections. Then guesses are made, for example, that D-strong precincts have more voters compared to the past than R-strong (and vice versa). More than anything it all just allows election watchers to have a see-saw of emotions for hours on end until real data starts coming in.

 

 

 

 


11:26am: The three states getting the most attention today highlight the changes in the “South.” Virginia has diverged steadily over the last 30 years and may finally tonight flip completely to total Dem control…

 

 

 

 

 

 


11:15am: Optimism is very high among Ds in Virginia now. Here’s one of the more popular predictions. Remember, Ds only need 1 Senate flip and 2 House flips to take control. This predicts +4 and +7:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


11:00am: The turnout news continues…

 

 

 

 


10:43am: First discussions of turnout are out in Virginia, and the early buzz is positive for Democrats. BUT, this seems to be the trend every year. Oddly, Republican voters are more likely to turn out later in the day, so things can change quickly….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


10:15am: What races matter? There are statewide elections in 5 places today: Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, & New Jersey. Those of us who live in those areas obviously will be impacted by our new representatives. Everyone else will also be looking closely to see what it may tell us about the political winds going into the Presidential election next year. Here are the specific races that will be most talked about tonight?

1) Can Democrats pull off a Governor win in two very red states?

*** Kentucky: Incumbent Republican Bevin vs.  Democrat Beshear – polls are all over the place, but most point to a very close race. Bevin is particularly unpopular, which is the only reason a Democrat has any chance at all here.

*** Mississippi: Republican Reeves vs. Democrat HoodHood is a conservative Democrat who has overperformed in the past. Right now most would rate this as Reeves race to lose (but it’s not locked up).

 

2) Will Virginia Democrats flip either the House or Senate?

*** Republicans control both, but Democrats need to flip 1 Senate seat and 2 House seats to take control. Democrats haven’t elected a Republican statewide in nearly a decade, and it’s the only state that voted for Clinton in 2016 to have R control of both chambers. This one will be close. Pundits currently rate it likely that Democrats will flip the Senate and rate the House as a toss up.

 

3) Is Texas trending Blue?

*** There is one state House district that has long been held by a Republican but with smaller margins in the Trump era. It’s likely to remain R, but if the Democrat can flip it, there will be talk about a mixed Texas district trending D.

 

4) Winchester-Frederick County, Virginia Local Races

***For those who live in this neck of the woods, the tippy top of Virginia, we have a few closely contested races. With no actual polling, it’s hard to say how these will shake out. The 3 that I’ll be following closest: 1) Winchester Clerk: Democrat Gardner vs. Republican Helsely. 2) Frederick County Sheriff: Incumbent Independent Millholland vs. Republican Sibert. Winchester referendum to change to elected school board members.

 

There are many other odds and ends going on as well, plenty of fodder for all of us who obsess over elections to exaggerate, stress, cheer, and otherwise fill that void in our political souls.


9:48am: George on Election Day. He did it, so can you. Reminder: You must present an ID to vote. Many different IDs work, AND you can still use them a year after they are expired. Curious about your polling place? Look HERE.:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


9:00am: Walking to vote along the beautiful streets of Winchester, VA with wonderful neighbors, atop falling yellow leaves, and a slight breeze on the cheek. As frustrating as politics are right now, for 99.9% of humanity’s existence, this coming together to pick friends and neighbors to handle community affairs was unknown, laughable, ridiculous.

We have the best medical care ever, the Internet, the Dixie Chicks may put out new music, air conditioning exists , and we have the ability to vote in a free and fair election. Life is still good.