College Republicans launch 16-state campaign, Virginia not included

Center for Politics calls Virginia Senate race 'likely Democratic'

The College Republican National Committee left Virginia out of a $2 million effort to win youth voters in 2014, as announced July 14.

Virginia voters will be asked to choose between incumbent Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat who formerly served as Governor, and his Republican challenger Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, at the ballot box this November.

CRNC is hiring three regional political directors and 30 field representatives in addition to running targeted online ads to reach out to youth voters in a plan which includes both West Virginia and North Carolina.

Virginia College Republicans Chair Liz Minneman, a second-year Batten graduate student, said the CRNC made its targeting decisions based on polling analysis by organizations like the University’s Center for Politics, which rates the Virginia senate race as a likely Democratic victory.

“When you have limited resources, you really have to make sure you are focusing your efforts on the areas you can have the most impact on,” said Minneman, who serves on the CRNC National Board as a regional vice-chair. “It kind of sucks for us, because we could really use some more resources on the ground.”

University Democrats President Kat Bailey, a fourth-year College student, said leaving Virginia out of the campaign was a good decision on the part of College Republicans. Bailey agreed the Warner race was out of reach.

“[T]hey’ve really been struggling with the youth vote,” Bailey said. “So far it’s not looking to be too tight in the Warner-Gillespie race. … [Warner is] obviously a really great candidate and well-known.”

Minneman said CRNC made the investment as part of a broader campaign to refocus national efforts on college campuses.

“[T]hey did all these focus groups and they found out that the problem is in the past the College Republicans [did not] really have a campus presence,” Minneman said.

Instead, Minneman said, the national Republican Party asked the University’s College Republicans to knock on doors and run outreach efforts in nearby communities. Minneman ran the University’s College Republican chapter before taking over as state chair last year.

“At the chapter level at U.Va., we’ve tried to reach out to students,” Minneman said. “[I]t’s difficult when we do not have these resources.”

Minneman said the focus groups revealed students agreed with Republicans on a variety issues, ranging from job growth strategies to placing limits on the National Security Administration.

“I think that the Democrats control a lot of the media already,” Minneman said. “In the Cuccinelli race, it was really just a matter of getting our message out [and] exposing students to what the Republican Party is really about.”

Bailey said the financial investment would not, however, fix the real gap between youth voters and Republicans on key issues, such as gay marriage.

“The views of the Republican Party as a whole are at odds with the views of young people as a whole,” Bailey said. “I’m not sure that they can do all that much to make a big change in terms of youth voting patterns.”

Minneman said a crop of exciting candidates would help to energize the Republican youth vote.

“I think the party is still evolving,” Minneman said.

related stories