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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Acrimony of Presidential Contest |Defined Virginia House Race

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. - The two names at the top of the ballots in Virginia's 10th Congressional District hang heavily over the race for the region's House seat as voters go to the polls Tuesday.

Democrat LuAnn Bennett is hoping to steal the northern Virginia district from incumbent Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock by relying on the unpopularity of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in the region.

Bennett's incessant television and radio blitz has centered on tying Comstock to Trump on issues from abortion to guns, trying to capitalize on strong Trump opposition in the mostly affluent district.

Comstock has been openly critical of Trump, even calling on him to drop out of the presidential race after a tape surfaced last month showing Trump bragging about groping women.

The Washington Post has endorsed Comstock, who has focused primarily on local issues in the race.

A recent poll from Christopher Newport University showed Trump lagging behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 37 points in Northern Virginia, where most people in the 10th Congressional District reside.

At the polls Tuesday, this unpopularity was evident, even among some Republicans.

"I couldn't vote for either of them," Monica Yoo, who voted for Independent Evan McMullin, told Courthouse News.

But it remains unclear whether Trump will be enough to drag Comstock from her seat.

One Republican voter who did not want to be named told Courthouse News she still voted for Comstock despite being vehemently opposed to the party's nominee.

What's more, Comstock's opposition to Trump did not seem to have much bearing on whether Trump voters leaving polling places would support her.

"She gets it by default," Trump voter Ken Piernick told Courthouse News about Comstock.

Public polling in the race is hard to come by, but Bennett recently touted an internal poll that showed her up four points over the Republican incumbent, though even this number was well within the margin of error.

The same firm released a poll in September showing Comstock ahead by two points, according to Ballotpedia.

Advertisements in the race have been brutal and outside money has poured into the competition. Comstock and the Republicans supporting her have portrayed Bennett as engaging in shady business dealings, saying "she makes government work for her."

Clinton is a heavy favorite in Virginia and especially in the more diverse, wealthier northern part of the state that runs up against Washington, D.C.

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com model gives Clinton an 85 percent chance of taking the state.

But that does not mean that northern Virginia voters are happy with their choice.

Like many voters across the country, a number of people leaving their polling places Tuesday told Courthouse News they voted not for their candidate but against the alternative.

"I just think he doesn't represent what America should be," said Clinton voter Brenden DeBose, who said while he is not a Clinton supporter he is firmly against Trump.

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