On Monday’s radio show, as he analyzed the previous week’s primary races, host and former House of Delegates member Chris Saxman gave his hot take on the 24th Senate District race between incumbent Republican Senator Emmett Hanger and his challenger, Libertarian Tina Freitas.
Here’s the transcript (listen to the podcast here) of that section of the show (starting around 43:00).
Chris Saxman: “We had Senator Emmett Hanger on a couple of times as well as his opponent Tina Freitas, and down the stretch, Sen. Hanger definitely won … won by 15 points. Most people thought it was a toss-up, inside two points, potential upset by Freitas. And Hanger puts it away by 15 points.”
Al the Engineer: “What happened there?”
Chris Saxman: “I’m glad you asked.
“This is why polling and analytics matter. Six weeks out, Hanger’s pollster says, ‘Look, you’re doing pretty well, but here’s some weaknesses and if she gets funded, these weaknesses could catch up with you.’
“They came back three weeks later, did another poll before Memorial Day, and went to him and said, ‘If you don’t change the direction of your campaign, you will lose. Here are the numbers.’
“And he didn’t want to go on a full attack — this is not his personality; he’s not a negative campaign guy — but they said, ‘You have to do some sharp contrasts, and here are the messages you want to do that with. If you don’t do this, you’ll lose.’
“He obviously did it. He ran up the numbers back in Augusta County, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Rockingham. She won on the eastern side of the district, over to Culpeper. On the western side, which is where Emmett Hanger’s from, he ran up huge margins and was able to put that one away. So that was a big win for Sen. Emmett Hanger.
“He also starts, in my estimation, too late running for reelection and his organization. He said, ‘Look, I campaign by working just as hard for my constituents.’ That’s great if this is the 1980s or 1990s and they want to see you. But with the digital aspect of a campaign and people grinding it out unseen, they don’t have to put out these massive campaigns to take you out.
“The Hanger campaign said, in … 2015, 12,000 voters voted in that primary in a three-way. On the day of the election [this year], the campaign manager or consultant or operative said they were thinking it would be about 16,000 votes. That was their estimate. Tina Freitas got 8,200. Now with 16,000, and she gets 8,200, who wins? She does.
“Well, guess what happened? 19,000 showed up! Three-thousand-plus more showed up than they were expecting. That’s a lot. That’s a substantial number turnout.
“So whatever Emmett Hanger’s team did, organizationally and in the campaign, whatever they were doing — digital, messaging, bulk mail, whatever — it worked. They turned out more people than anyone was expecting.”
It all came down to voter turnout in a June primary where voter apathy is a very real thing. #TeamHanger never let up. Sen. Hanger pulled in the third most votes in the Commonwealth.
Congratulations once again to Senator Hanger for his convincing win.
You may also be interested in If It’s Monday, Chris Saxman Is On the Radio.