HEY, you’re receiving FWIW Virginia because we think you’ll be interested in digital spending trends on both sides of the aisle in advance of the 2019 Virginia legislative elections. Each week, we’ll look at whose digital spending is up, whose is down, and whose is non-existent across the Commonwealth.
For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.
Meet Virginia FWIW
In October 2018, ACRONYM created FWIW, a national newsletter highlighting digital ad spending and trends across the political spectrum to help drive understanding and transparency around digital investment (you can sign up for FWIW here). This week, we’re launching a Virginia-specific version of FWIW, where we’ll look at how candidates, committees and organizations are investing in digital in advance of the state legislative elections this November.
Why digital? And why state legislative elections? State legislative elections are some of the least covered, least invested in races – particularly on the Democratic side. Given that landscape, digital has the opportunity to make a difference in these smaller, local races. Last cycle, ACRONYM ran the largest digital advertising program in history focused on electing progressives to state legislative chambers across the country – and we plan on continuing that work in 2019 and 2020. And as part of that, we believe it’s critical that people watching these races also pay attention to digital investments by Republicans, Democrats and outside groups who have a stake in these races.
So welcome to FWIW Virginia – let us know what you think of our inaugural issue, share tips or offer suggestions of what we should include by emailing us at [email protected]. Let’s get into it…
Digital spending by the numbers
In each issue of FWIW Virginia, we’ll track digital investment by party committees, statehouse leadership and candidates in some of the top competitive state legislative districts in Virginia. Here is how the investments by Republicans and Democrats compare since the 2018 midterm elections (week to week).
Here is a list of top Virginia political spenders on Facebook the week of Feb 17-23.
This has been a tumultuous session for the General Assembly. Between scandals involving all three Democratic statewide officeholders and vigorous debates over abortion and the ERA, there is plenty to talk about going into the campaign season. We took a look at what issues each party is trying to boost and how they’re framing the conversation around the legislative session online.
Both parties are leveraging issues that came up in this year’s session to drive their own narratives and get credit (or place blame) for bills that were introduced in the General Assembly. Unsurprisingly, the two parties decided to focus on completely different issues to highlight with their bases.
On the GOP side, the House Republican Campaign Committee is out with a new 90 second video contrasting the recent scandals of statewide Democrats with examples of legislative accomplishments from this year, including raising teacher pay and expanding medical coverage for people with autism.
Democrats are running a multi-faceted strategy to both engage base voters and push back against attacks from the right that could impact more moderate voters. On one hand, they’re running ads highlighting their push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment – likely to engage and energize more progressive, base voters. Check them out below:
At the same time, House Democrats are running direct-to-camera ads of Delegates Cheryl Turpin, Wendy Gooditis, and Elizabeth Guzman discussing how they have been getting results on kitchen table issues like education that resonate with wider audiences across the political spectrum. All three had been the target of ads pushed out by House Republicans earlier this month focused on abortion issues.
We dug into how much Republicans invested in these anti-abortion attack ads compared to how much Democrats invested in their “response” ads. Here’s what we found in the Facebook ad archive (the archive doesn’t provide exact investment figures, but does provide dollar ranges behind each ad).
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