Asian American voters are a rising, increasingly decisive force in Virginia politics. This is especially true this year in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. The district, which includes parts of in one of this year’s most hotly contested Congressional races: the election to replace retiring Congressman Frank Wolf. Democrats nominated Fairfax County Board Supervisor John Foust to succeed Wolf as the representative of Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.
How does this work?
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When a member of Congress does not run to keep his/her seat in the November general election, the election to fill the vacancy is considered “open.” The result of an open seat election often depends heavily on its district’s preexisting balance of Democratic and Republican voters. Most voters know little about the candidates who seek open Congressional seats. Average voters tends to vote for the candidate from their preferred political party. Therefore, if the voters who live in open seat district were closely divided in recent presidential and statewide elections, the district’s open seat Congressional election will usually be a close one.
If recent history is any guide, the current race in the 10th district could be very competitive. In 2012, voters in the district favored Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney by only a one percent margin. The following year, Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli won the district by nearly the same amount.
Although we haven’t yet seen any polling numbers, recent campaign spending decisions by the national party organizations indicate that both the Democrats and the Republicans expect the 10th to be a close election. In mid-June, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved $2.8 million worth of television advertising time to support the Democratic candidate, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust. The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it will match that figure to support Foust’s Republican opponent.
One of the most hotly contested elections in this year’s battle for control of Congress will occur in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. Rep. Frank Wolf’s announcement of his retirement after 17 terms set off a flurry of activity to fill the seat.
The intense competition stems in part from the growth of northern Virginia’s minority population, including Asian Americans. Today, this historically Republican territory is almost equally friendly to Democrats. In 2012, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the district by a slim 1.1 percent margin. GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli, Jr. won the district in 2013 by even less.
Asian Americans now make up 12 percent of the population of the 10th district, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.