Election Day brought a broad and deep victory for Democrats. We were proud to be part of winning campaigns from coast to coast, up and down the ballot, in both red and blue states as we continued to provide accurate polling and winning strategies.
The Mellman Group has picked up Republican seats every cycle for over three decades, and we maintained that record this year helping to defeat Scott Walker, flip three seats in the House, break Republicans’ veto-proof majorities in both houses of the North Carolina legislature, flip two state Senate seats in Nevada, and elect the only Democrat to San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors.
We also helped lay the groundwork for future Democratic pick-ups, passing Michigan’s redistricting initiative in one of the most GOP-gerrymandered states in the Union.
Of course, winning comes down to great candidates, strong teams and effective campaigns. We’d like to congratulate those who gave us reason to rejoice:
WI GOVERNOR-ELECT TONY EVERS: The Washington Post called it…”potentially the greatest victory in the midterms.” Three times, Scott Walker used division and fear mongering to emerge victorious. Not this time. Despite being outspent by more than 3 to 1, Tony Evers took Walker down.
A disciplined strategy led by an outstanding campaign manager, Maggie Gau, and executed by media guru Ben Nuckels, mail maestros Trish Hoppey and Joel Rivlin of Pivot, along with the Stronger Wisconsin team led by Tom Russell and joined by Trey Nix of the DGA, Anson Kaye of GMMB and Dianne Feldman, Tony Evers pushed past Walker’s scare tactics, captured voters’ desire for change, and emerged victorious.
And we’re proud our polling was right on target.
SENATOR JON TESTER (MT-DSCC IE): We are also proud to have helped the DSCC IE re-elect Senator Jon Tester. This team effort, led by the always brilliant Martha McKenna and her skilled team: Lauren Dillon, Maggie Touchton and Shaan Gajria, along with pitch-perfect ads by Saul Shorr, Adam Magnus and Jay Howser of Shorr Johnson Magnus resulted in a hard-fought victory for Jon Tester in a state Trump won by over 20-points. And again, our tracker proved the most accurate poll.
SENATOR MARIA CANTWELL (WA): We have been honored to work for Senator Maria Cantwell since her upset of incumbent Slade Gorton in 2000. This cycle, Senator Cantwell won by an impressive 17-point margin, thanks to her indefatigable work for her constituents and a wonderful team led by Michael Meehan, campaign manager Nate Caminos, research impresarios Ben Jones and Geoff Potter, and media master David Eichenbaum.
CA GOVERNOR ELECT GAVIN NEWSOM (IE) In the June Primary, we helped Gavin Newsom advance to the general, and in the process kept an anti-education candidate out of the top-two primary, despite the $30 million spent by outside interests on his behalf, much of it from opponents of public education.
CA SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION—ELECT TONY THURMOND (IE): Opponents of public schools spent over $27 million in this race trying to elect a candidate who reflected their views. Pro-education groups countered with half as much money but made up for it with a team led by Hall of Famer Gale Kaufman and her team, fantastic ads from David Dixon and Rich Davis, as well as assistance from us and from our colleague and friend Geoff Garin.
MICHIGAN PROPOSAL 2 (REDISTRICTING REFORM): Despite over a million dollars spent to thwart the measure, our rigorously-tested ads, expertly crafted by the always on-target Jill Alper, cut through the clutter to convey our research-based message. In the end, the measure passed with 61% of the vote. Our final poll, more than ten days out, came within 3 points of presaging the final vote.
This was a grass roots effort, developed under the inspiring leadership of Voters Not Politicians’ founder Katie Fahey, expert advisors Jill Alper of Alper Strategies, Seth London, Ryan Johnson, and Andrew Claster, and VNP Board President and redistricting expert Nancy Wang. We’d also like to thank Dave Waymire and Elizabeth Battiste of Martin-Waymire for their PR-savvy, Janet Katowitz and Charlotte Kelly of Sage Media Planning, Miles Baker of Jump Start Progress and the team at Trilogy Interactive.
HAWAII LT. GOVERNOR-ELECT JOSH GREEN: The magnificent state of Hawaii faces many challenges. We’re honored to have been a part of the team, led by strategic sage Allen McCune, that helped Dr. Josh Green win a competitive primary against a well-funded legislator and 3 other candidates and go on to win the general election.
JARED GOLDEN, MAINE 2nd CD: Jared Golden made history becoming the first challenger to defeat an incumbent in this district in over 100 years. He won a hard fought race in a district that went for Trump by 10 points, and voted for our opponent by the same margin last cycle. Golden’s talent, commitment to service, unique personal story, and his attachment to the district in which he grew up were key.
Congratulations and thank you to our truly refreshing and impressive candidate, Jared Golden, skilled campaign manager Jon Breed, messaging guru Bobby Reynolds of Maine Street Solutions, fantastic ads from Ian Russell and Philip de Vellis at Beacon Media, mail wizard Alan Moore, and our dedicated team at the DCCC; James Stretch, Alice Visocchi and Christa Chaio.
This was the first federal election in the country to use ranked-choice voting – and our polling – unlike any other public polling in the race – consistently found Golden with a lead in the final ranked-choice ballot.
BEN MCADAMS, UTAH 4th CD: We’re proud to have helped a truly outstanding candidate, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, defeat incumbent Congresswoman Mia Love in the 4th District in one the most-watched House races of 2018. As late as October, Nate Silver’s 538.com gave us less than a 15% chance of winning. In fact, McAdams’ impressive victory comes in the single most Republican House district won by a Democrat in this election.
The campaign’s gifted manager, Andrew Roberts, kept all the pieces working together, from Karl Struble’s fantastic TV to Jim Crounse’s incredibly effective mail to Alyson Heyrend’s masterful handling of the press to help Mayor McAdams pull off one of the biggest upsets of the year.
JENNIFER WEXTON, VIRGINIA 10TH CD (DCCC IE): It was an honor and pleasure to work with the DCCC IE this year in helping finally dethrone Barbara Comstock. Congratulations to the entire team — led by Jessica Mackler, Gabrielle Quintana Greenfield and Noah Kim at the DCCC, with skillful in-house data analytics by Rosa Mendoza, and a top-notch consulting team: MVAR, GPS Impact, Amplify Media, Mission Control and The Messina Group.
ANNIE McLANE KUSTER NEW HAMPSHIRE: In New Hampshire, we’re pleased to have yet again been part of Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s re-election team. We’ve had the pleasure of working for her since she defeated a Republican incumbent in 2012. This year she produced a 13 point margin in a district Hillary Clinton won by just 2 points. Led by an outstanding campaign manager, Tova Yampolsky, with compelling media and mail from Ralston-Lapp and Mission Control’s Ed Peavy and Maren Hesla, respectively, Congresswoman Kuster became the first Democrat to win a fourth term in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District since it was created in 1847.
We’re also proud to have helped a number of other excellent members of Congress in less competitive races return for another term including: Leader Steny Hoyer, Congressmen Dan Kildee, Ted Deutsch, James Langevin and Seth Moulton.
NORTH CAROLINA LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS: We helped North Carolina’s House and Senate caucuses to break super majorities in both chambers, picking up over 10 seats. This marks the third cycle in a row that we have picked up four or more Republican seats in North Carolina. It was an historic effort led by Caucus Directors Casey Wilkinson and Ryan Deeter and Governor Cooper’s Break the Majority campaign led by Morgan Jackson and Trey Nix. We were proud to be part of the team with Mad Dog Mail led by Jon Anderson, the Strategy Group led by Morton Brilliant, Three Point Media led by Travis Lowe, Peter Cari of Prism Communications, Geoff Mackler of Blueprint Interactive and Marisa Nickols and Elisabeth Hill working tirelessly on research, as well as our fellow pollsters Molly Murphy and Zac McCrary from ALG.
NEVADA STATE SENATE CAUCUS: In a good night for Nevada, we were proud to help the Senate Caucus flip two seats from red to blue. Our congratulations and thanks go to Senate Caucus Director Cheryl Bruce who led the effort, and Jon Anderson of Mad Dog Mail.
COUNTY SUPERVISOR NATHAN FLETCHER, SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CA: We were delighted to help flip a Republican seat, electing just the second Democrat to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in three decades. Under Dan Rottenstreich’s steady hand and impactful ads, Rose Kapolczynski’s sharp strategy, and Paul Worlie’s campaign savvy, Nathan Fletcher will ensure the Board, until now completely composed of Republicans, focuses on the issues of homelessness, housing costs, healthcare, and human rights that the people of San Diego demand.
THE COST OF TAKING ON THE TOUGHEST BATTLES….
When you take on the toughest battles—and we pride ourselves on that—you lose some. That doesn’t make the bitter pill easier to swallow, however.
Just a word about two colleagues we have been working alongside for many years through many challenges. We were honored to work with our dear friend Heidi Heitkamp who pulled off an incredible upset six years ago in one of the nation’s most reliably Republican states, while Mitt Romney was winning it by 20 points. Since then North Dakota moved much further toward the GOP as evidenced by Trump’s 36-point victory. Despite Heidi’s incredible record of achievement for her state and principled leadership for our nation, the partisan dynamic was too powerful to overcome.
In Georgia, our longtime friend John Barrow once again was one of the strongest Democrats in one of the most challenging states. We have been honored to call John a friend and be part of his team in his first race for Congress in 2004 when he upset an incumbent. This year he won a contested primary for Georgia Secretary of State, then forced a run-off in the November general, only to lose narrowly in December. He raised important issues about voting rights and election security – and we were proud, as always, to be part of his team; and know he will continue to be an important voice for years to come.