Rep. Barbara Comstock’s Northern Virginia-based seat is home to a rare breed: swing voters in a swing district in a swing state.
And by November, they’ll be among the most targeted in the presidential race.
The divided politics of the 10th District make it a true bellwether battleground, inviting outsize attention and resources from both parties. As the first-term Republican faces a challenge from Democrat LuAnn Bennett, those top-of-the-ticket dynamics could have substantial bearing on her reelection.
“Comstock is not just battling Bennett here,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who’s been active in Virginia politics. “Comstock is battling the Democratic plan to win the state of Virginia.”
Comstock’s district includes Loudoun and Prince William counties, two jurisdictions whose election results tend to mirror the outcome of statewide races. Emboldened by recent demographic trends that have turned Northern Virginia more Democratic, the party sees this presidential cycle as its best shot to unseat the first-term Comstock.
The freshman Republican won the open seat in 2014 by a wide margin, even as Democrats predicted a competitive race at the outset. This cycle, the party expects to be buoyed by heavier turnout in the area, known for its independent voting streak and pricey D.C. media market.
Republicans, O’Connell said, “have a large problem in Northern Virginia. But if they have anything to hang their hat on, it’s Comstock.”