TO: Interested Parties
FR: Dan Sena, DCCC Executive Director
RE: Week One: Investments in GA-06
DT: June 13, 2017
From the start, the DCCC understood that winning the Georgia 6th special election would be a monumental task. Simply put, virtually every structural advantage benefits Republicans in a special election in this traditionally conservative district.
The electorate in special elections tends to be less diverse and older than presidential or midterm elections—two demographic factors that favor Republicans. Furthermore, the GOP holds a substantial advantage in this district. For example, in their last primary election, 64% of primary voters selected a Republican ballot and only 34% selected a Democratic ballot – a 30-point Republican advantage.
It is no surprise, then, that Republicans have held this seat for the past thirty-seven years—with Newt Gingrich, Johnny Isakson and Tom Price, no less. Price’s electoral history is instructive: over six terms, he averaged a thirty-three point margin of victory, and that’s excluding two cycles when he ran unopposed.
Despite the initial conventional knowledge that a Democrat could not win here, the DCCC recognized the opportunity early, coalesced quickly behind Jon Ossoff, and invested substantial resources to flip this ruby red seat, almost doing so on April 18th. But because Republican and Independent candidates garnered over 50% of the vote in that primary, there was clearly still significant work ahead to persuade and turn out enough voters to get Ossoff to a majority in the June 20th runoff.
The DCCC has spent more than $6 million to fundamentally transform a traditionally Republican electorate, turn out low-propensity voters, channel the unprecedented grassroots energy, and communicate with swing voters.
TV/Radio/Digital Persuasion – The DCCC has spent nearly $5 million on Atlanta broadcast TV, cable TV, radio, and complimentary digital spots, communicating to voters the case against Handel—that she is a career politician with a history of wasteful spending. In total, the Committee has produced and aired four distinct 30-second creative ads driving that narrative against Handel, with the first spot airing less than 48 hours after the primary. The DCCC’s digital persuasion spending has been on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Field –In the beginning of March, the DCCC invested in an eight-person field team that was the first step in building the Ossoff field program that is unprecedented in size and scope. Working with the Ossoff campaign, the DCCC field team built, trained and now leads the Ossoff campaign’s entire paid field operation, with an original DCCC hire serving as the campaign’s field director. The DCCC’s deputy national field director has embedded with the campaign since the primary. With a base of over 4,000 volunteers who have completed more than 10,000 shifts, the Ossoff field team has built the largest Congressional field program ever. Currently, the field operation is building a dynamic GOTV operation and is focused on getting Democrats to vote early with our robust Vote By Mail and an Early Vote Chase programs.
Digital – The DCCC is spending more than $100,000 to mobilize Democratic base voters—with an emphasis on African-Americans and 18-34 year-olds. Facebook, Instagram, Google Display and YouTube ads are educating voters about early vote, communicating early vote polling locations, and pressing voters to return mail-in ballots. Ads are a mix of videos of supporters sharing personal stories about why they’re voting and updates about early voting, the election, and Trump.
African American Outreach – The DCCC has invested approximately three-quarters of a million dollars in the primary and runoff to turn out African-American voters. In the runoff, this includes $200,000 in radio advertising on African-American radio stations in the Atlanta media market, $12,000 for print advertising in African-American newspapers, digital advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Google display and YouTube, focused on Democratic base voters, and approximately $325,000 for GOTV mail pieces specifically targeting African Americans in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Notably, these investments have been with predominantly minority-owned vendors and firms.
What should have been an easy Republican hold has become the most high profile and expensive Congressional election in history, thanks to a strong candidate in Jon Ossoff and an unprecedented level of grassroots support for his top-notch campaign. However, even with Ossoff’s considerable war chest and an unequaled grassroots army, Republicans hold numerous structural advantages, which is why the DCCC has invested heavily in expanding the electorate and persuading swing Georgians to vote their Ossoff.