There’s no question that practitioners are looking at Virginia’s off-year, state-level races and wondering if there are lessons for their creative in 2024. After all, the Commonwealth is the state that has everything: beaches, mountains, rural voters, urbanites. We could go on.
Now, one thing that might not translate is Republicans’ creative embrace of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has polled ahead of Joe Biden in some hypothetical presidential matchups.
The frontrunner for the GOP nomination, however, remains former President Trump, who has high unfavorable ratings from voters. Simply put: while Gov. Youngkin’s endorsement makes for great mail creative that might not translate next year if Trump returns as the GOP nominee.
“As a Republican firm, we certainly have had the major benefit of having a very strong Republican governor who’s very popular right now in Virginia,” said Aaron Evans, president of Virginia-based Winning Republican Strategies. “He’s been a tremendous flag bearer for Republicans, and polls very well with the Independents.”
What candidate wouldn’t want a picture with the governor on their creative landing in voters’ mailboxes? Next year’s top-of-the-ticket candidate, however, likely won’t be so visible, particularly in the NoVa-type districts around the country.
One creative lesson that may translate is education on early voting. This is the first Virginia election that’s allowed a 45-day early-vote window. Evans said his clients have been “learning into that heavily” to convince people to cast a ballot early.
“I think that’s been probably the biggest thing on our side of the aisle — really educating voters on the specifics of why it is safe, why it is secure, and frankly, why it should be a preferred method,” he said. “We have to cut through [the clutter of other advertising] and not only make sure they know who our candidate is, but also make sure that they’re understanding why it’s safe and preferred to vote early and then how to do it.
“It’s still very new, and there’s still a lot of voters that still don’t realize that they can literally walk in and vote early in person, or they can mail in their no-excuse ballot,” he added. “It’s a lot of repetition.”