MEMO – Stopping an Anti-Climate Trifecta & Electing a Pro-Climate General Assembly in Virginia
TO: Interested Parties
FR: Pete Maysmith, LCV Victory Fund
Mike Town, Virginia LCV
RE: Stopping an Anti-Climate Trifecta & Electing a Pro-Climate General Assembly in Virginia
Election in 2023 brought tremendous victories for climate and clean energy, for democracy and for progressive values across the country. Clean energy candidates won across New Jersey, anti-democracy justices were stopped in Pennsylvania and climate champions were re-elected as mayor of Boise, Idaho, and Tucson, Arizona.
But, nowhere were the issues of clean energy and climate change more front-and-center and more at-stake than in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Background and Stakes in Virginia
Governor Youngkin raised unprecedented amounts of money and set the goal to expand his majority in the House of Delegates and flip control of the state Senate – giving them a trifecta in state government to enact his agenda.
- WASH EXAMINER: Youngkin breaks fundraising records for statehouse Republicans
150 days before the election, Governor Yougkin’s administration moved forward with their plan to undermine the state’s commitment to reducing pollution. As the Associated Press reported:
- RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia regulators voted on Wednesday to advance Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s plan to withdraw from a multistate carbon cap-and-trade program.
Throughout the campaign season, clean energy and climate issues were front-and-center for voters.
- EE NEWS: Va. voters to decide Statehouse control, with climate on the line
Even former Republican Governor Jim GiImore got into the debate:
- RTD Commentary: Want to help Virginia consumers? Reverse course on electric vehicle mandate
Then the results came in. Virginia Democrats protected the Democratic-controlled state Senate and won control of the House of Delegates.
- EE NEWS: Va. Democrats win big, denying GOP chance to undo climate policies
- Washington Post: Virginia Democrats’ wins thwart Youngkin on abortion, taxes, climate
And the results are clear:
- Associated Press: Virginia Democrats sweep legislative elections after campaigning on abortion rights
- CBS News: Virginia Democrats sweep legislative elections, delivering a blow Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s plan for a GOP trifecta
- Richmond Times-Dispatch: Youngkin comes up short as Dems hold Va. Senate and flip the House
The anti-climate, anti-clean energy Republican trifecta was blocked and a new Democratic majority will enter office on January 10, 2024.
How did we Win Virginia?
There are several factors that drove Democratic gains in Virginia, but the Virginia League of Conservation Voters-PAC (VALCV-PAC), supported in part by contributions from the League of Conservation Voters, was one of the largest investors in this success. VALCV-PAC’s strategic, integrated, multimodal program created a surround-sound on climate and clean energy to key voters and helped propel these Democratic victories.
- RTD: Virginia League of Conservation Voters invests $2 million into state candidates
Our early battleground survey research conducted by HIT Strategies illustrated the opportunity that existed in Virginia. The survey showed majorities of key voting universes were more likely to vote for Democrats after they heard climate messaging, particularly when tied with messaging on combating pollution and creating jobs. The survey found that VA voters were already more likely to trust Democrats over Republicans on the issue of climate change by 21%. VALCV-PAC chose to run large-scale paid communications programs in two Senate districts and four House districts that they believed would determine control of each chamber. They later added smaller digital programs in two additional House districts.
In total, $2.741 million was invested into the success in Virginia with $2.665 million going directly into programs and candidates and less than 3% going into overhead and research. The program leveraged advertising in support of candidates, strategically invested directly in candidates, ran large scale, grassroots-focused field programs and partnered with key organizations to maximize success.
|Layered Paid Media
|Direct To Candidates
Layered Paid Media
- Across six districts (two Senate and four House), VALCV-PAC delivered 400,000 pieces of direct mail with targeted voters received four flights (examples include: mailer #1, mailer #2, mailer #3).
- VALCV-PAC ran nearly eight weeks of digital ads in six districts (SD16, SD31, HD21, HD65, HD82 and HD97) and added two shorter digital programs in HD30 and HD22.
- The digital programs that ran for eight weeks included two district specific persuasion ads, one related to the clean jobs and the economy and one related to PFAS, as well as one GOTV ad of which all candidates received customized versions.
- The digital advertising program reached targeted voters on platforms like Hulu, Roku, Instagram and Youtube. The program resulted in 8.93 million views of our video advertising.
- VALCV-PAC ran an ad test by GrowProgress that found both persuasion ads to be highly effective. Both ads resulted in a significant (10-12pp) increase in Democratic vote choice.
|Kimberly Pope Adams
Direct to Candidates. VALCV-PAC made $300,000 in direct contributions to 30 candidates or caucuses and raised an additional $150,000 for campaigns through the GiveGreen program.
Field Activity. The field program successfully knocked on 73,029 doors and made 12,366 contacts in the critically important state Senate. The program also included a paid relational mobilization component, where paid mobilizers had approximately 1,500 conversations with friends and family members about voting. In addition, VALCV-PAC embedded eight field staff directly in key House and Senate campaigns through their GreenRoots program.
Partnerships. VALCV-PAC partnered with New Virginia Majority in their program to support Russet Perry (SD31), the key seat that protected the Democratic majority in the state Senate.
VALCV-PAC won five of the six races in which they ran both direct mail and digital advertising. All of these races were close – the average margin in the two Senate victories was 12,000 votes and only 3,800 votes in the three House wins. It’s unquestionable that VALCV was one of the largest investors in these campaigns, one of the most relevant actors and helped stop an anti-climate trifecta from taking hold in Virginia.