2013 Election Analysis: Gender, Race, and Age
Nevertheless, a victory is a victory in politics, so how did the McAuliffe team win against such tough odds? They won by learning from the mistakes of the 2009 elections, totally discarded the dead Sailer Strategy, and focused on winning over the successful and growing women, minority, and young voters.
Back in 2009, governor McDonnell (R) won the votes of white women by nearly 30 points. That lead among white women was reduced to 16 points in 2013 for the Republican candidate. And with Black, Latino, and unmarried women who strongly favor McAuliffe and coming out to vote in the 2013 elections in numbers similar to the 2012 Presidential elections, McAuliffe had a strong lead on the women vote. Cuccinelli's hard line stance against womens' reproductive and overall rights, typical with far-right conservatives, sure was a big factor.
Winning the minority voters and getting them to come out to the voting polls is critical in winning elections. In the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections, Black voters in Virginia made up 20 percent of voters who voted, and reliably voted over 90 percent Democrat. The 2009 elections were a bad time for Democrats, as the failed Democratic candidate failed to win the Black voters, with unmotivated Black voters making up only 16 percent of voters who voted in 2009. The McAuliffe campaign learned well and actively sought out to win the Black voters, who in turn made up 20 percent of voters who voted in 2013 and greatly helped McAuliffe win the Virginia governor election.
However, the Democrats did not do so well with the Latino or Asian voters, which explains why McAuliffe's lead of 2.5 points was smaller than expected (4 to 7 points lead predicted by the polls). Latino and Asian voters are the fastest growing minority voters who voted over 70 percent Democrat in 2012.
Even though Latinos, who have grown four-fold since 1990 in Virginia, make up 8 percent of the population, they were just 4 percent of the electorate Tuesday, down from 5 percent in 2012. Asians make up 6 percent of the population, but were just 1 percent of Tuesday’s voters, down from 3 percent in 2012.
Among voters ages 18 to 29, McAuliffe beat Cuccinelli 45 percent to 39 percent. That marks a big change from the state's 2009 gubernatorial election, when young voters went for Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell over Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds by 54 to 44 percent. McDonnell won by a 17-point margin.
While the Democratic share of Virginia's youth vote increased by only a single percentage point since 2009, the Republican share fell over that same period by a whopping 15 percentage points.