Last night, Governor Glenn Youngkin and Virginia Republicans lost control of the Virginia General Assembly after failed promises of a MAGA Republican takeover in Richmond and investing heavily in races across the Commonwealth. Despite their major spending and efforts to turn out their base, Virginia Democrats flipped the House of Delegates and maintained control of the Virginia Senate, establishing gun sense majorities in both chambers in Richmond. Youngkin’s failure to achieve unified MAGA control of Richmond is a major defeat for the governor and his MAGA allies, and a rejection of their extreme ‘guns everywhere’ agenda. And the newly flipped House of Delegates was buoyed by gun safety, with nine Moms Demand Action volunteers winning their races, further reinforcing that gun violence prevention is a powerful, winning issue that drives voters to the polls.
Virginia is always considered a bellwether, setting important narratives for the following federal election year — and this cycle is no different. The races Everytown strategically focused on in 2023 generated crystal clear contrasts on guns and abortion — the issues that matter to the voters who will decide 2024. As we dissect election night, here’s what Virginia tells you about what to expect in 2024.
Key Messaging Insights:
This year, as violent crime rose across Virginia, Everytown led the way in working to flip the script on “soft on crime” accusations, highlighting the threat posed to public safety and law enforcement by MAGA Republican candidate’s opposition to common sense gun safety policies. Our ads focused on how the MAGA agenda of making it easier for dangerous people and violent criminals to access guns puts our families and communities at risk. Next year, expect to see gun sense candidates continuing to showcase their work to reduce violent crime while highlighting Republican opposition to common sense gun safety measures.
The 2023 elections also saw MAGA extremists continue to double down on their efforts to ban abortion. Fighting for access to reproductive healthcare empowered voters in the midterms, and it was clearly a major motivator in Virginia this year. Everytown’s research demonstrated that linking MAGA opposition to both abortion and gun safety policies as a threat to the health and safety of our communities proved to be a potent, motivating message frame for key voters in battleground districts.
Everytown’s Major Investment in Virginia’s 2023 Elections:
Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund and Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund invested over $1.5 million in the 2023 Virginia elections and mobilized its grassroots army of hundreds of thousands of Virginia Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers to communicate directly with voters about the stakes on gun safety in this election. Ultimately, Everytown out-spent the NRA in their home state by 10-to-1, per the latest campaign finance filings — yet another indicator of the growing strength of the gun safety movement while the NRA’s influence is on the wane.
Everytown’s efforts in Virginia this cycle included:
- A $1.5 million paid media campaign highlighting Virginia MAGA Republicans’ opposition to common-sense gun safety laws.
- $100,000 to support Moms Demand Action volunteer candidates running in critical local contests — the most comprehensive investment Everytown has made in down ballot races to support our own volunteers running.
- More than 100,000 door knocks and phone calls from our grassroots army of Moms Demand Action volunteers in Virginia and across the country.
Everytown’s victories in Virginia included:
- 9 Moms Demand Action volunteers who ran for the House of Delegates and won their races, including Joshua Cole, whose victory in HD-65 helped flip the House. Moms Demand Action volunteers now make up nearly 20% of the Virginia House Democratic caucus.
- 4 Everytown endorsed gun sense champions who ran for Virginia Senate and won their races
- 8 Moms Demand Action volunteers who ran and won in critical local races, including Jessica Schneider, who flipped a seat on the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.
Virginia Democrats leaned into gun safety as a winning issue in 2023. Everytown polling showed that 80%+ of battleground area voters said a candidate’s position on guns was highly important, and those voters supported strengthening gun laws by more than two to one. This year, there was a substantial increase in state legislative candidates running on gun violence prevention and featuring gun safety in their paid media.
The results last night once again solidified gun safety as a winning issue that motivates and persuades voters. Everytown will redouble our efforts in 2024 — going all-out to re-elect President Biden and Vice President Harris, the strongest gun safety administration in history, and showing up for gun sense candidates at every level of the ballot.