Home 2023 Elections Video: DLCC Briefing on VA Elections Features Tom Bonier of TargetSmart, Del....

Video: DLCC Briefing on VA Elections Features Tom Bonier of TargetSmart, Del. Danica Roem, Sen. Monty Mason

"Everything we were seeing in the early vote is consistent with a very close election in both chambers, especially when we look at these targeted districts"

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Earlier today, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) hosted a Zoom press conference “to provide updates on early voting for the Virginia legislative elections featuring TargetSmart Senior Advisor, Tom Bonier,” as well as Virginia State Senate Democratic candidates Del. Danica Roem and Sen. Monty Mason. From the DLCC’s press release:

Join us halfway through early voting as we discuss where the races stand, what numbers we’re looking at, the importance of getting out the vote, and the stakes of this election. Three weeks into early voting, we now know how many people have already voted and the data behind the early voters. A reminder: This fall will be the first time Virginians are voting for a full state legislature since Roe was overturned as well as their first time voting on new district lines.

See below for video and a few highlights from the call.

DLCC Interim President Heather Williams: “We’re halfway through early voting and, after reviewing the first few weeks of data, we’re seeing some good signs about our
chances to hold the Virginia Senate and take back the Virginia House. But this is far from a done deal; there are still tossup districts all across the state and here is the bottom line: we need everybody who has requested them to turn in their mail ballots and everyone else to get out the vote. We know that everything is on the line in 2023; Virginia is the last state in the South that has has not passed an abortion ban and if Republicans get a trifecta they will use their unchecked power to set Virginia back decades…To date, the DLCC has directed or committed over $2.2 million to the Virginia House and Senate caucuses…to counter the barrage of spending from Governor Glenn Youngkin and others trying to flood the state…Republicans…would focus on banning and taking away abortion and other fundamental freedoms we hold near and dear for us or our loved ones…We’ve seen what MAGA chaos and dysfunction causes; for example, Republicans still can’t pick a Speaker of the House, because the last guy worked with Democrats to keep our federal
government running…We’re seeing the effects of our investments…[we’re] in a good position but it’s far too early for either side to declare victory and it’s very close…We need every Democrat to go out and vote!”

Del. Danica Roem: “We feel really confident about our chances to win this election, despite a last-minute infusion of money coming in from Governor Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC… The overwhelming majority of [my Republican opponent’s] fundraising is coming basically from the party, whereas mine’s coming from the people…We’ve had thousands of donations in this campaign…Our early vote modeling right now shows that we believe we are likely to have a lead…based on who we identified in the field over the summer and even in the spring and into the fall and who’s turning up we believe that we are in a really good position right…One of the things that’s really resonating is in this area is the fact that not only am I at the top of the ticket here as a three-term State Delegate who’s passed 41 bills into law, all with bipartisan support, including 12 bills to feed hungry kids…I’ve got a record of deliverables and not just with school meals, but securing $33 million to fix local roads here…helped deliver mass transit to Haymarket…and the first time now that we actually have outside the Beltway…commuter buses running from the Manassas part of I66 to the Dulles corridor…the other side, their closing message is transphobia transphobia transphobia…and if they think that this election is going
to be any different with that message just because they have more money behind the message, it won’t be – we will win this election just like we did against the self-described chief homophob of Virginia in 2017…It’s not much of a stretch to think that where the Republican Party is in Virginia today is basically where Bob Marshall was 6 years ago. And when you have someone who was the only member of the entire house of delegates to vote against allowing doctors to prescribe 12 months of birth control in one setting for example; when you have someone who was putting in the Life Begins at Conception legislation, you know this is where they’re going…at the same time, those are also the same values that Jim Jordan has in now his third failed speaker run…[in contrast] I’m running on my record of deliverables for this district and what I’m going to continue
doing…”

Sen. Monty Mason: “We have known that I had a 50-50 seat since the day it was drawn. From the first moment of the campaign, we’ve been running it as a 50-50 seat and running it up to this very moment…So we have really pressed to try to make the contrast of what we stand for…and what we’ve seen over the past couple years with the Republican control of the House of Delegates…We have seen the effort to either repeal them entirely or to roll them back substantially come over from the House of Delegates and we put a stop to them…but a change in the State Senate or in my seat would absolutely do away with those things that we have seen to be so successful. There’s a stark contrast on the environmental work; I am on the committee that governs all environmental policies in the State Senate….I carried the standalone offshore wind bill…offshore wind is going to be a boom to the port of Virginia, to Southeastern Virginia, to the Commonwealth Virginia and the nation…We refused efforts to get out of…the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative…My opponent and the other side have used the gun issue when we should have been discussing gun violence and ways to prevent it, my opponent had used that years ago as as a beginning of a culture war and he declared his county and York and Poquoson to be a second amendment sanctuary, that no laws that were in violation of the Second Amendment right would be enforced and/or no resources
used to help federal or state officials to to apply them…We…got upwards of another $700
million applied to education and…with Democratic majorities you are going to only see
that grow…The other side continues the culture war.  I am the father and the parent of a 15 and a 13 year old in our public schools. I know what it’s like to fight for my daughter; she has a specialized learning plan. But fighting for my daughter does not mean antagonistically approaching these schools and teachers as adversaries, it means sitting around the table with my daughter’s teacher, her reading specialist, the principal, the
social worker, the whole team to come up with with a plan…for her to be successful…My  opponent consistently supports all of these wonderful transportation efforts but tells you in the same breath that he’s going to repeal all the taxes that provide the resources; we know you can’t have it both ways, we know that’s not the way it works…We’re working hard to promote and push [the early vote] but also…we’ve been persuading and talking to as many independents as we can, because we know they break our way on so many of the issues that we’ve talked about today. And so we’re going to continue to push hard for the next couple of weeks to bring this thing home…We’re in a good position; we believe we’re on…the right side of history on these critical, monumental issues…I’m proud of the work we’ve done but there’s a lot of work to be done, and we need to be serious about our focus and our efforts…to continue to accomplish these things.”

Tom Bonier: “So what are we seeing in Virginia – I’ll give you the headline first, then I’ll dig into the data – everything we were seeing in the early vote is consistent with a very close election in both chambers, especially when we look at these targeted districts. A lot of the analysis some of you have probably heard is probably focusing on statewide  numbers, which as you know is really not relevant at this point. So what we’re doing is zooming into the individual targeted districts. When we look at turnout, so far over 300,000 Virginians have already cast a ballot. In these targeted districts, turnout is
generally somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 votes…it’s enough data to begin to draw conclusions and I emphasize begin…The early vote tells us one part of a mathematical equation; the rest of it will be determined over the coming two weeks and a few days and then of course on Election Day.  In the end, we expect about a third maybe a little bit less
than a third of votes in this election to be cast before election day, the the rest on Election Day…In Virginia, we have seen Republicans investing significantly in getting their voters out before election day, and you are seeing some limited level of success in that. You are seeing a larger share of Republicans voting before election day than we saw last year or than we saw in 2021.  It is worth noting that the overwhelming majority of those voters
who have turned out already, these Republican voters who are being brought out, are voters who are likely voters voters…what we would call super voters voters who likely would have voted on Election Day anyhow. But they are turning out some new voters.
That said, when you look at the Democratic turnout especially in these key districts, Democrats are matching if not exceeding their raw turnout levels from both 2022 and 2021. That’s pretty remarkable, because if you look at overall turnout, this is generally the low point of the four-year election cycle in turnout in Virginia…In some districts, early vote turnout compared to the same point in time last year or two years ago is as much as 25% over. So, statewide, early vote turnout is about 90% of those past year turnouts. But again, in these targeted districts, what you’re seeing is a high level of intensity from both sides. Part of that is Republicans actually joining the party so to speak and actually
getting their voters out, but again a big part of it is Democrats coming out and actually matching if not exceeding early vote turnout numbers from 2022 and 2021. Fom a demographic perspective…I’m not going to go through all the details…one thing that
has stood out to me African-American turnout has actually exceeded from a statewide perspective and in these targeted districts previous turnout. That’s one of the  the bigger highlights…The big summary here is when we look at the early vote and we look at the lessons that we learned from 2022…when you view this early vote date in Virginia through that lens, everything is pointing towards an incredibly close election in these targeted districts at this point. Understanding that they’re still over two weeks to go here until we get to election day, and that about 75-80% of the ballots are yet to be cast.”

Reporter question #1: Del. Danica Roem said “We feel very confident that our early, in-person vote is in our favor and then one once the mail and ballots started coming in that’s where the Republican advantage in that early vote dissipated very quickly…By the second week, they no longer had an advantage, and at this point we’ve built up what is a pretty nice lead for us.” Also, per Del. Roem: “Based on our numbers right now, we believe that we are within striking distance of complete parity [at Heritage Hunt precinct]…That is a
very very promising sign for us; the Republican Party does not have a path to winning this seat nor do they have a path to winning HD21 for Josh Thomas against John Stirrup…without Heritage Hunt…We have a pathway in my race to sweep the entire
Greater Manassas area…If we have a pure sweep of Manassas, [Republicans] don’t have a chance on Election Day.”

Reporter question #2: Del. Danica Roem said, “We feel really good about our ability to hold on to the Senate and win back the House this fall. And if we do that, then not only do I believe that President Biden will once again carry Virginia by – you know, he won it by 10 points last time and I think we could probably get close to that – but at the same time, that will set the tone that we need nationally to make sure that he’s winning the other Battlegrounds as well.” [Note: Tom Bonier, in contrast, doesn’t think that the outcome of Virginia’s elections is necessarily predictive of 2024]

Interesting points by Tom Bonier in response to a question about turnout in specific districts: “What I can tell you is even though turnout does look like it will be high, certainly in these battleground districts, and potentially higher than it was in 2021, which is very unusual given the gubernatorial on the top of the ticket, you’re unlikely to see a huge surge of first-time voters. It’s going to be decided…it’s those sporadic voters who are likely to make the difference if they are turning out at a higher rate.”

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