Home 2021 Elections McAuliffe Campaign Post-Election Memo: Dems Saw “Historic” Turnout, But Youngkin Capitalized on...

McAuliffe Campaign Post-Election Memo: Dems Saw “Historic” Turnout, But Youngkin Capitalized on “the Democratic stalemate and the Fox News/conservative media echo chamber” to Drive Turnout From Heavily Trump-Supporting Areas

Also: Dems were actually "underwater on education at the start of the race" due to "fatigue" over COVID-related school closures.


See below for a memo from the McAuliffe for Governor campaign from this past Friday, re: “Election Results Analysis.” Key points include:

  • “While we projected the race to be tight heading into Election Day, Youngkin was able to capitalize on strong overall turnout and a negative national climate for Democrats in order to win.
  • Heading into Election Day we projected overall turnout to be roughly 2.7 million statewide. In this scenario, we would have had Republicans over perform their historic turnout patterns while Democrats dropped. What ended up happening was that Democrats exceeded expectations with an increase in raw vote totals from 2017, but it wasn’t enough to counter the surge in Republican turnout.”
  • In reality, we saw record-setting turnout in 2021 with 3,257,735 votes cast as of Friday, an increase of 645,426 total votes from 2017. Turnout was up across the board compared to 2017, with African-American turnout up 116% and Latino turnout up 125%. In any other off year, seeing African-American turnout increase 116% would be enough to result in a Democratic victory.”
  • “While we were successfully able to turn out the Democratic vote, Youngkin was able to use the Democratic stalemate and the Fox News/conservative media echo chamber as a catalyst to drive turnout in heavily Trump supporting areas and close the gap in turnout that was created in 2017.”
  • “Given the partisan divide that has grown in Virginia over the last four years, the increase in turnout alone would have usually been enough to secure a Democratic win. However, the 44 year historic trend in Virginia with the opposite party winning the gubernatorial race than the party in the White House proved to be true.
  • “While the conventional wisdom is that Democrats should maintain an advantage on education, we actually found that Democrats largely were underwater on education at the start of the race. Given the fatigue many Virginians faced after school closures and COVID, McAuliffe started the race at a disadvantage on education.”
  • “…based on our modeling our final early vote projection heading into Election Day would have had McAuliffe up 214,064 votes over Youngkin, winning 59% of the early voting. In actuality, McAuliffe entered Election Day with a lead of 220,297 votes meaning that our early voting projections were largely spot on.
  • “Though we were successful in banking over 220,000 votes from early vote heading into Election Day, eventually the political climate caught up with Democrats in Virginia as well as nationally.”
  • As the national mood worsened for Democrats, we saw a drop-off in support across the board, both in Virginia but also across the country. This drop off in support, compounded with the increased Republican turnout on Election Day, meant that even with historic Democratic turnout in Virginia resulted in a close loss for Democrats. This trend, however, was not localized within one part of Virginia (contrary to the media narrative) or to the state alone.”


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