Only 15 Percent of Virginia House of Delegates Seats Are Being Contested

Something I should say is that this whole “floors not ceilings” thing with regard to campaign finance reform shouldn’t be taken as just something to say in response to calls for contribution limits. Even relatively modest public financing would, if applied systematically, really transform the American political system. Consider, for example, this story about how only fifteen percent of Virginia House of Delegates seats are being contested.

People often discuss uncompetitive seats primarily through a gerrymandering lens, but I think the money is a much more important factor and one that there’s a better solution available for. If any major party nominee was guaranteed a decent amount of money, then almost every seat would be meaningfully contestes. Incumbents might still be regularly re-elected (and why shouldn’t they be if they’re ideologically well-fitted to their districts) but they’d still need to hustle and try and worry that they’ll be exposed to scrutiny. The way our system works now, the quantity of meaningful elections is very driven by the imperative to raise funds and then try to allocate them “efficiently” to winnable seats. It leaves us with a needlessly impoverished political debate.