McAuliffe Campaign Funded the Democratic Ground Game That Sealed Victory
Breitbart News has confirmed that much of the credit for Terry McAuliffe’s narrow 47.9 percent to 45.5 percent victory over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in Tuesday’s election is attributable to a $4 million donation the McAuliffe campaign gave to the Democratic Party of Virginia, which used those funds to run a highly effective ground game for the party’s full slate of candidates.
Ashley Bauman, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that "[w]hile we used that money [the $4 million donated to the Democratic Party of Virginia from the McAuliffe campaign] for many things, the vast majority of it was used for our grassroots mobilization effort to get out the vote”
"We ran one of the largest ground games in a gubernatorial campaign ever in an off year election," Bauman added. "We worked hand in glove by running a very coordinated campaign up and down the ticket, from Governor to House of Delegates candidates."
The robust Democratic ground game may be one reason that statewide voter turnout increased from 40% in 2009’s gubernatorial election to 42.4% in 2013. With 100% of the state's 2,558 precincts reporting, 2,220,424 votes were cast out of 5,240,452 registered voters.
Ms. Bauman told Breitbart News that “we are well trained in grassroots mobilizing . You see that in Virginia in the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012. We took that model to the next level in 2013.”
Ms. Bauman declined to spike the football when asked to compare the Democratic Party's ground game efforts to the Republican Party’s. "Their ground game is not something I'm well versed in," she told Breitbart News.
The Cuccinelli campaign donated $220,810 to the Republican Party of Virginia.
Republican National Committee Political Director Chris McNulty sent out an email to Republican surrogates and allies on Wednesday morning about the party's ground game. In the email, McNulty stated that "the RNC spent $3 million to support Ken Cuccinelli and the Republican ticket, while building the party’s presence in Virginia."
The email did not specify how much of the $3 million the RNC says it spent to "support Ken Cuccinelli and the Republican ticket" was used for the ground game.
A review of the Virginia Public Access Project website, however, shows that the RNC donated only $85,098 of in-kind contributions to the Cuccinelli campaign, and that money was used for "media" and "media buys."
Breitbart News asked the RNC for a specific breakdown of the $3 million. A spokesperson for the RNC responded by citing the $85,098 in in-kind contributions reported at the Virginia Public Access Project, as well as transfers made to the Republican Party of Virginia.
"To date, the Republican National Committee has transferred $1,979,205 to the Republican Party Of Virginia during the 2013 Virginia Governor's race," the spokesman responded. "The FEC reports for October and November are due at a later date. Once those numbers come in combined with our in-kind donations like polling, Korean ads and our staff that was dedicated to the race it will total $3 million."
The spokesperson declined to break down the uses of the $3 million, stating that "we don’t give specific breakdowns of our budget."
McNulty's email said that "[i]n getting out the vote for Cuccinelli and the Republican ticket, we tested our new precinct-based voter contact model. Precinct Teams, led by Precinct Captains, canvassed neighborhoods using RNC data and new technology. This allowed for a more decentralized approach: individuals could focus on neighborhoods with which they were familiar."
According to McNulty, "[b]y October, we already had twice as many data points as we did at the same point in 2012. We had 50 offices, which was more than 2012. We had 60 staff on the ground, on par with 2012."
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, the Republican Party of Virginia donated $843,083 to the Cuccinelli campaign. $625,000 of this was in the form of cash, and $218,083 was in the form of in-kind contributions, primarily for direct mail production.
The highly effective Democratic ground game is one explanation for the virtual tie that exists in the down ticket Attorney General’s race between Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring. With 100% of Virginia's 2,558 precincts reporting, Obenshain leads Herring by a mere 476 votes, 1,099,615 to 1,099,139, despite outspending Herring by $2 million, $4.7 million to $2.7 million.
The McAuliffe campaign outraised the Cuccinelli campaign by $14.3 million as of October 23, raising $34 million to Cucinelli’s $19.7 million. In 2009, Republican Bob McDonnell, who trounced Democrat Creigh Deeds in the gubernatorial election by a 59 percent to 41 percent margin, raised and spent $24 million--$4.3 million more than Cuccinelli raised in 2013. Cuccinelli raised only $2.7 million more than the $17 million than the Democrat Deeds raised in 2009.
Though the McAuliffe campaign heavily outspent the Cuccinelli campaign in television advertisements during the last week of the campaign, the $13 million the McAuliffe campaign spent on television ads throughout the entire campaign was only $4 million more than the $9 million spent on television ads by the Cuccinelli campaign.