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Planned Parenthood Action Fund Analysis on Role of Women’s Health and Impact of Successful “Keep Ken Out” Campaign in 2013 Virginia Gubernatorial Election

“The lesson for candidates in 2014 is unmistakable: Dismiss and demean women at your peril,” – Cecile Richards

You can view the report “Women’s Health: A Winning Issue. An Analysis of the 2013 Virginia Gubernatorial Election” here

WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Action Fund today released an analysis of the role that women’s health and Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations played in the Virginia gubernatorial election. Terry McAuliffe’s victory over Ken Cuccinelli was driven by women voters in Virginia, after a campaign that centered in large part on the two candidates’ starkly differing view on women’s health.

In February, Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Planned Parenthood Votes launched “Keep Ken Out” — a $2.4 million dollar multilayered campaign to make sure Virginia voters knew the truth about Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme record and agenda on women’s health when they went to the polls. The campaign strategically targeted 200,000 key women voters who recognized that affordable health care and birth control are crucial issues, and who supported access to safe and legal abortion.

In the end, women won this race for Terry McAuliffe. 

  • He won women by 9 points — matching Obama’s 2012 advantage with Virginia women, beating his 2008 advantage with Virginia women by 2 points, and flipping Republican Governor Bob McDonnell's 8 point advantage with women that propelled him to victory in 2009. 
  • Notably, 20 percent of Virginia voters said abortion was the most important issue in determining their vote, and McAuliffe won 59 percent of those votes.
  • Among the rising Virginia electorate, McAuliffe won overwhelmingly, winning among unmarried women by 42 points, and among African-American women by 84 points.

You can read the full report here.

In an op-ed in the Huffington Post today, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens writes: “The Virginia gubernatorial election sends a message to the rest of the country about how to win elections in America today — and how to lose them.

She continues: “Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations had been fighting Ken Cuccinelli’s attacks on women’s health for years, and knew this race would be a bellwether. Rather than nominating Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, the Virginia GOP shut down the normal primary process and allowed a small group of Republican insiders to nominate the most extreme ticket of any major party in recent history.

“Just like in 2012, we made it a top priority to educate women about where the candidates stood on women’s health and rights. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Planned Parenthood Votes, and Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC went ‘all in’ on the Virginia governor’s race, investing $2.4 million and targeting 200,000 key voters. Our supporters and volunteers knocked on more than 90,000 doors, made some 26,000 calls, and rallied outside key electoral events. The Action Fund sent mail to more than 155,000 households, launched KeepKenOut.com to spread the word online and Planned Parenthood Votes spent over a million dollars on television and radio to be sure Cuccinelli could not hide from his record.”

You can read Dawn’s Huffington Post op-ed here.

You can read Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s post election statement here.