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Interested Parties From: Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America Date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 Re: Ken Cuccinelli the canary in the coal mine for anti-choice candidates heading into 2014 It is often said that off-year elections like this race in Virginia are an early indicator of trouble for a party heading into the congressional cycle. As the factions of the Republican Party, both at the federal and state levels, proactively pursue an extreme anti-choice and anti-women agenda, the governor’s race in Virginia should serve as their canary in the coal mine as they look ahead to 2014. At a time when poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans hold pro-choice values, anti-choice politicians have tried to shy away from their track record of attacks against women’s reproductive freedom, the outcome of Virginia’s gubernatorial election should serve as a cautionary tale of what’s to come for future anti-choice candidates: voters will hold you accountable on Election Day. Recognizing that pro-choice values are a winning issue in this election, NARAL Pro-Choice America:
• Led an aggressive, targeted campaign based on polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan and Rosner Research (GQRR). Our messaging regarding Ken Cuccinelli’s misplaced priority of pursuing limitations on reproductive freedom over concerns of jobs and the economy tested strongly and was an underpinning of each message we sent to pro-choice, drop-off women voters in Virginia. • Partnered with its affiliate in Virginia to reach 30,000 targeted voters in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads through mail, online advertising, canvassing and phone-banking to ensure that our key messages were delivered and reinforced throughout the campaign. • Created innovative online ads to reach a key group of voters through smart targeting – not previously done in Virginia - on their mobile devices with the right message at the right moment in the campaign.
While pro-choice messages that reinforce Ken Cuccinelli’s misplaced priorities have resonated throughout this campaign, being anti-choice and proactively ramming through policies that endanger women’s health and limit economic freedom is a damaging platform for the Republican Party. And in this race the facts are clear and undisputable: Virginia voters, like the majority of voters across this country, reject the extreme agenda of the current Republican Party when it comes to issues that affect women. Ignoring these facts going forward amounts to a costly political miscalculation. Despite their party’s obvious problem with women voters, many Republicans will try to dismiss this as an isolated race or a bad candidate. Yet, from the high-profile defeats in 2012 of anti-choice candidates like Todd Akin (R-MO) and Richard Murdock (R-IN) tells a different story: candidates called out for their anti-choice agenda on the campaign trail can be solidly defeated. Conversely, candidates who embrace pro-choice values like VA gubernatorial hopeful, Terry McAuliffe, will connect with voters who value leadership that addresses the real needs and priorities of women and families across America. As we consider races underway for 2014, NARAL Pro-Choice America, working with our affiliates and allies, will look to expand our highly successful political program to make sure that voters are keenly aware of the consequences of electing anti-choice politicians: They are both out-of-touch with real women and families and consistently sacrifice our priorities to pursue their dangerous agenda. Our Program: Motivated both by Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme policy positions and record in public office as well as Terry McAuliffe’s strong and repeated championing of a women’s right to make her own health choices, NARAL Pro-Choice America, working in partnership with our affiliate NARAL Pro-
Choice Virginia, developed and executed a targeted political program over the last six months to ensure McAuliffe’s victory. Below is a brief outline of the work NARAL Pro-Choice America, working in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, did in the Virginia gubernatorial race. We believe these efforts, along with those of our allies, have contributed to the massive gender gap in polling leading into Election Day. We also believe this work, scaled to the national level, has the potential to make a similar impact in the 2014 election cycle and beyond. Demonstrating the Power of Choice and Finding the Strongest Message In June, NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia commissioned GQRR to conduct a statewide poll of 600 pro-choice, drop-off women voters to test the most salient messages on the anti-choice record of Ken Cuccinelli. Overwhelmingly, our sample responded to our priorities message: Ken Cuccinelli should be focusing on Virginia’s jobs and economy, not limiting reproductive freedom for women. Targeting Voters with Our Tested Message NARAL Pro-Choice America, in coordination with allies, developed and deployed a six-piece mail program targeting more than 30,000 voters in Northern VA and Hampton Roads. Voters in the targeted universe received multiple pieces of mail with our tested messages that painted Cuccinelli as extreme and out of touch with the real priorities of Virginia voters. Creative Online Ads and Smart Targeting After studying the media landscape and determining that many of the persuadable voters in our targeted universe get more news and information online and on their mobile device than anywhere else, NARAL Pro-Choice America developed an innovative and persuasive online ad campaign. The online ads highlighted Cuccinelli’s extreme record on a woman’s right to choose by depicting him as an intrusive “cardboard Ken” Cuccinelli figure in a woman’s bedroom and even at the pharmacy. The spots underscore Cuccinelli’s belief that the influence of elected officials belongs in the private spaces and decisions of women and families across the Commonwealth. These ads targeted pro-choice, drop-off women voters across the state. It also targeted women using mobile devices by employing innovative multi-screen digital advertising that penetrated thousands of web properties, including desktop and laptop browsers, tablets and smartphones. Meeting Pro-Choice Voters at Their Doors While ads and polling are useful tools, elections are still won with an effective ground game. That is why in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, our Virginia affiliate ran an aggressive canvass operation in both outer Northern Virginia (Prince William and Loudoun counties) and the Hampton Roads areas, in partnership with the national NARAL organizing in the Northern Virginia area. Working with allies, they knocked on more than 10,000 doors. The areas selected for the canvassing received information about Terry McAuliffe. Leveraging the Power of Pro-Choice Student Activists Realizing the power of young voters, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Virginia affiliate, worked with partners to install and train organizers on five college campuses in Virginia (Christopher Newport University, James Madison University, University of Richmond, Mary Washington University and
George Mason University). On campus, these organizers canvassed, phone-banked and ran visibility campaigns through Election Day, with particular emphasis on GOTV. Getting Every NARAL Pro-Choice America Member Out to Vote In the final week of the campaign, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and its affiliate, ran three volunteer phone banks out of their national office. Volunteer dialers contacted the organizations’ members in Virginia with a GOTV message. Additionally, the organizations’ volunteer recruited phone bank support from five affiliates and as result their members across the country connected in virtual phone banks urging members in Virginia to go to the polls.
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