Add Women Speak Out, the Super PAC affiliated with the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, to the list of winners in Tuesday night’s Republican wave.
The group spent $5 million on ground game and direct mailings in support of pro-life Republican U.S. Senate candidates in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Iowa, and Kansas. In four of those races, the candidates they backed won by larger-than-expected margins. In the fifth, Louisiana, their candidate, Representative Bill Cassidy (R-LA), qualified as one of the top two candidates in the state’s jungle primary, and is favored to defeat incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in a December runoff.
In an emailed statement, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said “[the] overwhelming victory for pro-life candidates signals the fact that the bottom has fallen out of the abortion-centered ‘war on women’ strategy. We are encouraged with the new pro-life Senate and look forward to a vote on our top legislative priority, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This compassionate, popular legislation will protect the lives of more than 18,000 unborn children per year.”
In May, presumptive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), both of whom were re-elected on Tuesday, committed to passing the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in a Republican led Senate.
Republican Senate candidates outperformed poll predictions across the board, but they particularly outperformed the polls in the five states where Women Speak Out engaged.
While several factors contributed to these strong performances by Republicans — a general wave of public opposition to President Obama’s policies, an improved Republican National Committee ground game, and largely error-free campaigns by the candidates in the last months — the efforts of the Women Speak Out Super PAC were of great help to the Republican Senate candidates it endorsed.
The Women Speak Out Super PAC’s political engagement this election cycle was extensive. It included door to door canvassing, phone calls, and targeted mailings. According to a statement from the organization “a team of more than 700 field representatives had reached more than 900,000 pro-life voters who typically do not vote in midterm elections.”
In Arkansas, for instance, Representative Tom Cotton (R-AR) dominated incumbent Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) by on overwhelming 17 points — 56 percent to 39 percent. The final Real Clear Politics poll average gave Cotton only a seven point advantage.
The Women Speak Out Super PAC spent $1 million in the Razorback State, where it had 209,435 total voter contacts, which included 143,701 door knocks and 65,734 live calls delivered by 199 paid field staffers in three field offices.
The group spent $477,000 in the Hawkeye State on 446,000 direct mail pieces and 225,000 phone calls to voters who were “not traditionally exposed to our pro-life message,” according to their statement.
In Kansas Republican incumbent Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) defeated independent Greg Orman by 11 points, 53 percent to 42 percent, a huge surprise given the consensus among the Real Clear Politics poll average going into election day that Orman was up by one point.
In early October, when it was clear that Orman was in the lead, Women Speak Out moved some of its paid staff from nearby Arkansas, where Cotton looked secure, northwest to Kansas. Despite the late start, the group spent $400,000 over a few weeks and delivered 92,355 voter contacts, which included 23,630 door knocks and 65,995 live calls.
In Louisiana, where the Super PAC’s endorsed candidate, Cassidy, qualified for a one-on-one runoff by winning 41 percent of the vote in the jungle primary, just one percent under incumbent Landrieu’s 42 percent, the group spent $1 million, it claimed 204,886 total voter contacts, which included 132,808 door knocks and 72,078 live calls delivered by 205 paid field staffers in six field offices.
In North Carolina, Women Speak Out’s endorsed candidate, Thom Tillis, squeaked to a surprising 49 percent to 47 percent victory over incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC). The group spent $1.9 million, it claimed 398,754 total voter contacts, which included 152,317 door knocks and 246,734 live calls delivered by 204 paid staffers in five field offices. In addition, it spent $720,000 on television ads.
In an election cycle where billionaires on both the left and right funded Super PACs with far less successful track records, the Women Speak Out Super PAC has set a standard of political efficiency to which many groups will aspire in 2016.