Mitch Stewart: Why Terry McAuliffe Will Win
When the votes are tallied in the Commonwealth of Virginia this coming Tuesday, few doubt that recent polls will bear out and that Terry McAuliffe will be named the state's 72nd Governor. What the analyses to date fail to show however, are the underlying reasons why he will win -- and the implications for Virginia long term.
In any election, the ground game matters. And in Virginia, the same "Field of Dreams" approach and theory that "if you build it, they will come" that helped propel then-Senator Obama to victory in 2008 and again in 2012 will do the same for Terry McAuliffe in 2013. On the Obama campaigns, the more offices we opened, the more supporters came. It gave people a sense of community, a place to get involved in the campaign, and ultimately proved effective in 9 out of 10 battleground states. By investing in the infrastructure to house the volunteer and staff organizers every electoral effort needs to be successful, the McAuliffe campaign has followed in the footsteps of the Obama campaigns -- and built on the winning gubernatorial campaigns of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine before it.
In an off-year election, when voter turnout is historically lower, the ground game is even more critical. Turnout this Election Day is not going to top 2012 -- which rivaled 2008 numbers at 70 percent -- but it doesn't need to. And the McAuliffe campaign isn't trying to get an "Obama-like turnout." They are simply using some of the best practices from the Obama campaigns to achieve an increase in turnout over other off-year cycles. In fact, led by 2008 Clinton campaign veteran and former DCCC Executive Director Robby Mook, the McAuliffe campaign set a clear goal from the beginning to increase voter turnout to 40 percent -- a margin wide enough to secure a win but also in line with expected off-year voter participation.
That has meant focusing on persuasion early and turnout in the end -- and activating a network of more than 12,000 volunteers in the final four days of the campaign alone. Throughout the race, the campaign has not only made a clear case for why Terry McAuliffe should be the next governor of Virginia, it has prioritized the face-to-face contact we know is most effective in engaging and persuading voters across the Commonwealth. As a result, heading into their final get-out-the-vote push, the campaign has already knocked on more than 1.5 million doors and mailed nearly 80,000 pledge to vote postcards.
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