Home 2019 Elections FWIW Virginia: Dem Digital Ads Emphasize Abortion Rights, Healthcare, Education; Northam “Largely...

FWIW Virginia: Dem Digital Ads Emphasize Abortion Rights, Healthcare, Education; Northam “Largely Absent from GOP Advertising”


From FWIW Virginia/ACRONYM:

The primary elections for the Virginia General Assembly are less than three weeks away. Week after week, we’ve consistently tracked who’s spending how much…but what are some messages they are putting money behind to get in front of voters? Particularly in competitive Democratic party primaries across the Commonwealth, which issues are Democrats pushing online? We take a look in this week’s FWIW Virginia.

But first…

2019 by the numbers

We’re tracking digital investment by party committees, statehouse leadership and candidates in some of the top competitive state house and senate races in Virginia. Here is how investment by Republicans and Democrats compare since the 2018 midterm elections.

Overall digital spending in Virginia’s legislative elections continues to increase each week. With the primary elections less than three weeks away, you can expect that investment online to increase, especially in multiple competitive races in districts around Richmond and Northern Virginia.

Here is a list of top Virginia political spenders on Facebook the week of May 14 – 20.

Deep Dive: The Democrats’ primary concerns

With multiple Democratic primary elections for the House of Delegates and State Senate, candidates are beginning to emphasize their positions on key issues that motivate their party’s base voters. Online, we’ve seen several stick out: abortion rights, healthcare, and education.

Abortion Rights

As the battle over abortion rights erupted last week with anti-choice bills passing or gaining support in states like Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri, this issue has continued to be a major topic for Democrats running in competitive primaries for the General Assembly. Democratic candidates in tight primaries were running ads, sometimes their first of the cycle, touting their position on this key issue for their base voters.

Del. Lee Carter, running for re-election in a Democratic primary against a more conservative Mark Wolfe, began running his first ads of the cycle this week, including this one contrasting his stance on the issue with his opponent’s:

In SD10, Ghazala Hashmi’s first Facebook ads of her campaign began running last week, highlighting her endorsement by pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia:

…and Sally Hudson, running against Kathy Galvin in a deep-blue Charlottesville area district (HD 57) to replace Del. David Toscano, is running ads touting a #StopTheBans rally she attended:


Access to affordable healthcare has been a defining issue in elections from California to Maine. In Virginia, many Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates and State Senate are driving narratives to their base about how they will support lowering cost and expanding access to care.


In a primary election context, incumbent Democrats like Lee Carter and Debra Rodman are trying to emphasize their records of accomplishment when it comes to Medicaid expansion in the state, while challengers and newcomers are emphasizing what more can be done on the issue:



Raising teacher pay is a key point for Democrats, and Del. Alfonso Lopez is running ads highlighting his record supporting higher wages for educators. Non-incumbents like Kathy Galvin and Mark Wolfe are driving messages around expanding access to Pre-K and fully funding public schools.

?BONUS: “I’m not Ralph Northam!”
Despite making international headlines months ago, Governor Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal is largely absent from GOP advertising. At the time of this writing, there were only three ads running in the United States even mentioning Northam, including this gem from Congressman Ralph Norman in South Carolina.

Thanks for reading and make sure to sign up for weekly updatesfollow us on Twitter and email uswith ideas of what you’d like us to dive into next.- The team at ACRONYM

P.S. Here’s a sign-up link for our national FWIW newsletter and you can find today’s issue here.


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