Prediction: General Assembly Elections*

by D. J. McGuire

Election Day is five months out; early voting begins in a little more than three months. Primary Day isn’t for another week and a half. Still, yours truly is ready to make my first asterisk-heavy prediction on who will win the General Assembly in November. The prediction is based on assumptions driven by current facts. Should those facts change, the assumptions and the prediction change. Hence the asterisk(s). The prediction itself comes from my belief that the assumptions will hold up.

The GOP Case for Optimism
I begin with what happened in 2021 (Republican +7 House of Delegates seats, flipped chamber), and examine the differences from then to now that would impact the 2023 result. For the Republican Party of Virginia, two factors argue for a change in their favor.

First, Glenn Youngkin has gone from largely unknown candidate to minimally successful governor. That change is impactful: no incumbent governor of Virginia has seen their party suffer a genuine mid-term loss in 20 years — and even that — Mark Warner losing a State Senate seat – came as he picked up a few delegates in 2003. To find a governing party suffering serious losses in a Virginia mid-term, you have to go back to 1991.

To some extent, many of Youngkin’s predecessors had the advantage of a politically unpopular foil in the White House. That said, so does Youngkin (538), which is the second factor in the GOP’s favor.

Assuming Youngkin can maintain his approval rating at about 50 percent (probably) and keep his party together (not so likely, see below), he would expect to keep the House of Delegates under GOP control at least.

The Democrats’ Case for Optimism
Unfortunately for Youngkin and the RPV, the national environment’s impact goes beyond the resident of the White House. While President Biden is certainly unpopular, he’s no more unpopular than he was in November 2021, with the stench of the Afghanistan collapse still very recent. That’s been mitigated by the relative success of keeping Ukraine from being conquered by Russia (dividing the GOP on the issue in the process). Domestically, Biden’s latest accomplishment is the bipartisan debt-ceiling/budget deal. For all its faults — and there are many — it averted default and also left his own party more united than the GOP. Youngkin didn’t have a divided party on his hands in 2021; he does now.

Moreover, Virginia voters made their distaste for Biden’s predecessor abundantly clear from 2017 through 2020. In 2021, Donald Trump was largely viewed as a spent force, fading from the spotlight and mentioned more by angry Democrats than by thankful Republicans. Today, he is the leading candidate for the GOP presidential nomination (by far), even as he comes under indictment for his treatment of government documents. The relaxation anti-Trump voters may have felt in 2021 is gone.

Unfortunately for Republicans, there is no evidence that Trump can fuel the voter turnout to counter his critics unless he himself is on the ballot – which will not be the case in 2023.

As for independent voters, we’re talking about a man who is charged with illegally taking and refusing to give back documents vital to national defense — in a state with one of the highest shares of military personnel in the country. If Youngkin is lucky, Trump will be in the news on this only once or twice a week due to pretrial motions and appeals of same. If the case goes to trial in the fall, the GOP message, whatever it may be, is done for.

The Wild Card
The RPV’s final problem will likely be Trump himself. Why do I say that? Because I saw the item below in Axios [italics added].

If I saw it, I’m sure two prominent Virginians in the Trump and DeSantis campaigns (LaCivita for Trump; Cuccinelli for DeSantis) saw it, too. Depending upon where the field is come autumn, at least one of these two candidates will want Youngkin to stay out. If all they have to do is stop a few seats from flipping in the Commonwealth, it’ll be worth it to them.

To be clear, we won’t see this openly (unless Trump decides to openly criticize Youngkin and the RPV in a preemptive strike). More likely it will be quiet whispers in donors’ ears, unattributed comments designed to depress GOP turnout, etc. This, combined with the national issue set I mentioned above, will keep Youngkin from holding his fellow Republicans together.

The Prediction*
* – Subject to change if the facts underlying current assumptions change. If they don’t though, here’s how I see it:
State Senate: Democrats 23 (+/-1), Republicans 17 (+/-1), Range: D+2 to R+1, Democrats hold majority
House of Delegates: Democrats 53 (+/-2), Republicans 47 (+/-2), Range: D+3 to D+5, Democrats win majority

Flag planted … but could be moved.

D.J. McGuire is Financial Editor for Bearing Drift. Reprinted with permission from Bearing Drift.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


18 responses to “Prediction: General Assembly Elections*”

  1. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Digging. Holes. And stopping.

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    Reprinting Bearing Drift? Are you serious, Jim Bacon? And then reprinting an article about political predictions?

    Bearing Drift was, once upon a time, a credible blog. That all ended with the 2016 election. In the run-up to that election, the contributors became hard-boiled never Trumpers. They made a slew of erroneous predictions:

    1. Trump would never be nominated.
    2. If Hillary won, she wouldn’t be able to change the nature of the Supreme Court.
    3. If nominated, Trump could never win.

    Those commenters missed their real calling – being hosts on The View.

    Once the election ended and it was proven that they were wrong, wrong and wrong again … their main contributors just dropped out. Brian Schoeneman went MIA and Norm Leahy uses the blog as occasional click bait for articles he writes for the Washington Post (the start of the article is posted on Bearing Drift but you have to link to the paywalled Washington Post site to finish it).

    After their miserably failed predictions ahead of he 2016 election what was left of Bearing Drift was a seriously left of center blog that continued to use the motto, “Virginia’s Conservative Voice” despite being just the opposite. After years of this disinformation I see that Bearing Drift has eliminated that motto from its website replacing it with … nothing … which seems very appropriate.

    So, Bacons Rebellion readers who remember Bearing Drift when it was, as advertised, “Virginia’s Conservative Voice” should be advised that it is closer to Blue Virginia than anything conservative.

    This article’s author, when not busy writing patently absurd pieces about how national Republican politicians are tools of the Kremlin for demanding a plan for Ukraine support, describes himself thus:

    “D.J. is an Adjunct Faculty Instructor in Economics at Tidewater Community College, a cost estimator, and a musician. A neoconservative, he has watched the Republican Party succumb to white supremacist and anti-democratic impulses with alarm. He now calls himself a Red Dog Democrat.”

    Given Bearing Drift’s history of inaccurate predictions and DJ McGuire’s own depiction of Republicans succumbing to white supremacist impulses, I view his predictions as leftist propaganda rather than political analysis.

    1. VaPragamtist Avatar

      Accurate on all counts. I especially agree with, Bacons Rebellion readers who remember Bearing Drift when it was, as advertised, “Virginia’s Conservative Voice” should be advised that it is closer to Blue Virginia than anything conservative

      I imagine the contributors to BD thought, between all of their pearl clutching when Trump won, that they were taking a “moral” stance when denouncing the president and his supporters at every turn. But what they failed to realize–and what they failed to capitalize on–is that there’s a middle ground. You don’t have to be all-in for the person, just as you don’t have to be all-out for him either. You can identify faults but still seek political success. That would have been a great way to capture Virginia’s Conservative Voice.

      But they didn’t. Now they’re garbage.

    2. how_it_works Avatar

      “I see that Bearing Drift has eliminated that motto from its website replacing it with … nothing … which seems very appropriate.”

      It’s still there.

      Maybe if they weren’t giving their crap away for free someone could sue them for false advertising.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        I looked at their site and didn’t see their disinformation motto. I’m glad you turned it up. Where did you find this?

    3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      I just saw the DJ part and thought you wrote this… lol… was quite surprised by your predictions… 😂

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Lol. My predictions would have assumed that the voters in Virginia would consider issues the candidates they are voting for could actually affect rather than just being a shadow of national politics. Redistricting and retirements also play a huge role in any analysis of the 2023 Virginia elections.

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          I agree… redistricting will probably carry the day, imo…

    4. WayneS Avatar

      Perhaps Bearing Drift imparted some bearing drift by altering their course to avoid a collision with reality.

  3. Rafaelo Avatar


    First clue to the future of the Senate: after re-districting there are 16 Dem. incumbents; 12 Rep. Incumbents tend to stay put.

    Second clue: in the newly redrawn districts, no Dem. is running against a Repub. in only two districts. But no Repub. is running against a Dem (apparently) in seven. I say apparently because in six districts the primary was cancelled (no candidates?) and Balletopia simply leaves one blank.

    Manifestly the Dems have lots of candidates who see an opportunity; the Reps far fewer. Imbalance in quantity; noticeable difference in candidate quality as well.

    For instance: District 11. Two experienced, known, credible Dem. contenders vying to run for that seat, Sen. incumbent Deeds and House incumbent Hudson. On the other side, Hamilton, a professional process server, with space alien political views and process server funding.

    In that District too it would seem, Rep. insiders concluded “don’t bother running, waste of time and money.”

    Senate almost certainly flips Dem. this go-round.

    First clue from


    1. VaPragamtist Avatar

      Is Philip Hamilton related to the disgraced former delegate from the 93rd?

      1. Rafaelo Avatar

        That Phillip A. Hamilton was aged 59 when sentenced in 2011 to 114 months in prison for bribery and extortion. With good behavior he should be out by now, aged perhaps 71.

        The Philip A. Hamilton now running in District 11 is much younger. If related, might be his son or grandson — but lacks a postnomial “Jr.” or “III”.

        Also Phillip the Elder sported two “l’s”. A thriftier Philip the Younger gets by with one. On the other hand, both are/were Repubs.

        You could send him an email and ask.

        Phillip the Elder:

        Philip the Younger:

        1. Stephen Haner Avatar
          Stephen Haner

          No relation as far as I know. The former legislator has been out of prison a while now.

          I haven’t wasted time on Bearing Drift in years. Very irritated that trash came over here. Seeing less and less reason for my efforts here. Predictions before the primaries are decided are especially worthless.

  4. Turbocohen Avatar

    The issue for Youngkin, who is dividing his fellow Republicans with his involvement in primaries supporting candidates opposed by local units, is that he is forging minority support at the cost of his ’21 majority. He tried this in SD19 and in a delegate race in Chesapeake, thumbing his nose at the local GOP there by attempting to semi secretively leverage an unknown while offering up empty promises to a well known and trusted candidate with good name ID. He is alienating “his” base in several key areas. Who the hell is advising him to do this divisive bullshit?

    1. VaPragamtist Avatar

      The same DC political consultants who also double as his policy team. You know, the people with no actual experience in state government but think they have all of the answers to all of the problems, without seeking substantive partnerships with state workers or localities.

      It’s not dissimilar to what would happen if you took a bunch of academics with no real world experience and told them to run the state. All ideas and theory, no tangible strategy or results.

      1. Turbocohen Avatar

        Hence the nickname for Youngkins Frat Boys. Supposedly they bring votes.

        1. VaPragamtist Avatar

          I’m not sure they even do that. They got incredibly lucky in 2021 when McAuliffe put his foot in his mouth over the school issue in late September. They managed to capitalize on that single issue and rally the vote. Prior to that no one knew about or cared about Youngkin or his campaign. Nothing they did was effective.

          Hell, the entire reason he got the nomination wasn’t because anyone knew who he was or cared about him. . .it was because of the ranked choice system that (1) confused everyone and (2) paved the way for an unknown candidate that those on the far right and the center right filled in as a protest (“I’ll never vote for the far right/center right”) candidate.

Leave a Reply