Three candidates have arisen for the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat of Tim Kaine in Virginia, Corey Stewart, EW Jackson, and Nick Freitas. Each comes with their negatives and positives. Each has brought their own strategy to the table in the approach to the June Primary. Three important facts that should play into the Republican Party of Virginia’s overall strategy when it comes to this election: 1. Hillary Clinton & Tim Kaine won in Virginia by more than 5% in 2016. 2. Terry McAuliffe who was Governor of Virginia at the time made several moves that gave the democrats additional voters (a potential 3% impact), which they would not have otherwise had in that election. Ralph Northam the current Governor has done nothing to change any of that. The question for today is this, of the three candidates, which one will fare better against Virginia Incumbent Senator Tim Kaine in November. This is the third in a series of four essays conveying the results of an extensive analysis of the race and potential results in November. It covers what we expect to see if Freitas is the Republican Nominee to face sitting Senator and failed VP Candidate Tim Kaine. More than 45,000 potential election scenarios were run and the results that were compiled to offer some insights into this critical Virginia Election.
Freitas v. Kaine
Name recognition, name recognition, name recognition. Anyone who anyone who wants to be a detractor of Nick Freitas uses those words. Then as if they were quoting the movie The Distinguished Gentleman with Eddie Murphy they tell you about the psychology of reinforcement and the wonder of displacement, but they don’t ever say, politics is about what you believe. They never say, character matters as much as a degree from Georgetown or Harvard. They don’t ever ask if a patriot put his life on the line or if another picked up her rifle and stood a post. These things matter, and they matter very much to Virginians. They matter very much to Republicans. Since John Warner left office, no Republican has held a seat from Virginia in the US Senate. Four straight losses over 12 years. It’s always defenders of the establishment who say, “that’s a wasted vote,” or “he has no chance to win.”
It’s started up Facebook, blogs and elsewhere. The internal wars of the Republican party always pass that way. Then you end up with another guy who looked like the last guy and you get the same results. Here is a solid set of facts that you can always rely on, Virginia never changes. 40% of Virginians are Republicans, roughly 10% of whom vote only when it’s convenient or they’re inspired. 40% of Virginians are Democrats with the same inspire me or apathy 10%. It’s almost impossible for a candidate from either party to come away with less than 40%, although Corey Stewart may give that stat a run for the money. 20% of Virginians are independent, free thinkers, whatever you want to call them, but they won’t wear a label. 10% of the 20 will also stay home if they don’t see a good reason to go out. For Republicans, there are 12 characteristics that make a candidate that is interesting, inspiring and moves the possible 61% of potential R voters. Nick Freitas has 10 of those. Democrats only have 7 drivers and Kaine only has 3. Neither Freitas (CA) nor Kaine (MN) are originally from Virginia.
I ran more than 14,000 variants of this election. Every time there was a variation. I introduced all manner of errors and gaffs, policy changes and lies and omissions. All the time, I maintained that Kaine would run a near perfect campaign. This race is as close as it can be. Freitas must be near perfect as well, if he wants to defeat this powerful incumbent senator. He needs to go after the Kaine – Clinton connection. Whoever wins this election must get more than 10% of the independent block of voters. This block has a few interesting characteristics. They watch the news but probably not Fox News. They are solidly divided (50-50) on Trumps policies, but almost none would say they support him. The middle 20% is where Nick Freitas finds the most support. The ones who don’t support him stay home. The best thing any Republican has going for them in this election is the Kaine Clinton Connection.
Freitas wins the simulations more than half the time. If he sticks to his current message, He wins more than 68% of the time. The results are always close with Kaine at a steady 46.26%. In a scenario where both candidates are flawless, Freitas wins 53.3% to 46.2%. The Introduction of a libertarian candidate, Matt Waters who is a communications and messaging expert, and should be taken seriously as a threat to a normally Republican voting block. This complicates life for Freitas since the libertarian slant is his message. Libertarians are notoriously willing to jump ship at the first sign of a candidate “moving to the middle.” The same scenarios run with the third party shows Waters getting as much as 6.5%, very little of this chunk comes from Democrats. It’s often not as high, ranging from 1.2% – 6.5%. The scenarios are designed with Waters running a near perfect campaign. His performance is dependent very much on the campaign that Freitas runs. With the three candidates, Freitas, Kaine, & Waters, (49.9%, 46.2%, & 3.9% respectively).
How the models work:
1. It is driven by the current political environment, tested against historical results
2. The statistical method used to build these models focuses on policy positions and candidate characteristics as detailed below. It’s possible to win at one and lose at the other.
3. Branding is taken into account. Some people will vote republican or democrat no matter who wears the robe.
4. Apathy is taken into account. Given a certain set of circumstance some people won’t hold their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. They won’t show up at all.
5. Regression is used to determine which elements are prevailing based on voting precinct. This assumes the people in a community are similar, but the analysis weeds out those factors that are irrelevant.
6.Actual voter behavior is measured by comparing historical campaign data / events / campaign information and voter records by precinct. All voter records are available at the Virginia board of elections Web Site or from the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV).
7. A Google Web crawler was used to determine a stand on and measure a candidate’s commitment to a position on a policy issue for the campaign. Policies were measured via a five-value scale from strongly favors to strongly opposes.
8. Voting records are a separate factor from a campaign policy statement.
9. Candidate historical voting records influence position stands. For example a person who holds a position they once voted against will have their commitment to the position diminished.
10. Personal characteristics of the candidates such as education, jobs, prior public office, and military service, were taken from online biographies and campaign websites.
11. Candidate characteristics are based on available online mentions, videos, and supporter statements. The tenor and tone of the candidate from public pronouncements, press releases, or other publicly available information influence voting patterns as well.
12. Voting records were assessed via linear regression analysis tied to the above factors to determine future voter behavior.
13. Population change by county was considered.
14. New Virginia Immigrant Citizen Voters were analyzed via origin state and assigned to a group of voters based on a similar voter region.
15. The Model does not take into account dead people voting or any other form of voter fraud.
For Kaine and the Democrats, the key will be to link whatever Republican runs to Trump. If they make the race a true replay of the 2016 election they will engage their voters and get them out to vote. Nothing excites democrats like hating Trump these days. It is by far the most telling driver of turn out for them. Kaine has all the advantages of an incumbent senator including instant money and name recognition. He also has all the detractors of a candidate that corrupted an entirely political process as part of an overall plan to nominate Hillary Clinton. This conspiracy handed the White House to Donald Trump and the Republicans. For many in the democratic party, this is unforgivable.
For Republicans, the best chance statistically is to nominate, Nick Freitas. In 2/3s of all scenarios, he beats Tim Kaine. He doesn’t need as much money or as much name recognition. He does need to get out and talk to everyone who will listen. E.W. Jackson can win the day, but he needs a new message and a new delivery model for it. Stewart is a wasted chance. Under no set of circumstances does he even win his home county of Prince William. Importantly, under no set of circumstances can a Republican win when any segment of the party refuses to participate after their candidate loses. I’m talking to you Bill Bolling.