Going into the November 2017 elections, Republicans were four for four in special elections during the Trump Administration. But yesterday's fight in Virginia's gubernatorial election was always going to be tough. Since the early 1990s, first term presidents' parties have always lost control of the Virginia governors mansion.
While he was ultimately unsuccessful, the truth is that Ed Gillespie ran a phenomenal campaign for governor. To wit:
- He earned the more votes than either former Governor Bob McDonnell earned in 2009 or Governor Terry McAulliffe earned in 2013.
- He almost certainly exceeded his vote goal, based upon past turnout figures and the best data models. In fact, he earned more votes than any Republican candidate in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- He even picked up a percentage point on President Trump's 2016 result in the state.
But despite these considerable achievements, Gillespie was unable to overcome a massive wave of Democratic voter turnout. So it goes.
At Hines Digital, we are proud to have been a part of Team Gillespie-helping mobilize our grassroots network in support of Ed's campaign.
In the final weeks, we actively engaged targeted people in our grassroots network most likely to support Ed's campaign. By the end of the campaign, we were sending ~50,000 emails per week with a sustained open rate of 32.5%.
Ultimately, we were a very small aspect of a much larger and well-run campaign. Eric Wilson, Gillespie's longtime digital director, led a tremendous digital organizing effort-marrying sharp design with smart targeting and a clear focus on results that matter.
And to be clear, the campaign did get results that matter: Ed Gillespie earned more votes for governor than any candidate in Virginia history except for one-his opponent.
The Democrats outspent Team Gillespie by $9 million and generated voter turnout at levels that shocked election observers across the political spectrum. That historic Democratic turnout cost Ed Gillespie the election, but it doesn't change the fact that he and his team ran an excellent campaign that we were proud to have been a part of.