Results in key races
Of course, this record involvement would be for naught had we not succeeded in helping elect our credit union friends in these key races. Of the ten races on the ballot yesterday in which we invested in paid voter communications, we won eight.
We won a major victory in Nevada, where our independent expenditure (IE) helped Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) win a key victory for Democrats on an otherwise difficult evening.
CULAC’s other IEs, with one exception, also resulted in victories for strong credit union friends. Our statewide radio buy for Republican Rep. Roy Blunt in the Missouri Senate race helped him win easily. Freshman Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) won with the help of CULAC direct mail. And Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), a credit union champion in the Colorado legislature, defeated incumbent Rep. Betsy Markey, a Democrat, with assistance from CULAC radio ads.
Our partisan communications campaigns, in which leagues and credit unions mailed to credit union members, were similarly successful. Incumbents and credit union champions Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) won, while many of their Democratic colleagues lost. We believe their success can be attributed at least in part to our efforts.
Credit union mailings also helped Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) win an open seat and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) defeat incumbent Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy.
We did lose two key races: that of credit union champion Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.). Despite our best efforts—we mailed more than 50,000 pieces of mail to credit union households and organized volunteer canvassing and phone banking efforts—the Republican wave, particularly in Pennsylvania, proved too much for Rep. Kanjorski.
Indeed, the result confirms what our internal polling had indicated in the weeks leading up to the election. While this is obviously a difficult loss for credit unions, it also demonstrates why we have worked so hard to develop new up-and-coming champions on both sides of the aisle.
It should also be noted that while we were successful in eight of the ten races in which we conducted paid communication efforts, there are many other races involving credit union friends in which we couldn’t help in a similar fashion given the unprecedented number of competitive races and our limited resources.
In determining which races to engage, our political affairs staff works closely with leagues, the CULAC Executive Committee, and professional political pollsters and consultants.
Given the resources available, including not only funds but credit union penetration in a given district, we try to invest in races where we can make a difference in the outcome. This is a key component of our strategy to expand our base of credit union support in both the House and Senate.
We are confident though, that our successes can be attributed to the strong, favorable image of credit unions, both among our own members and the voting public at large.
Throughout the year, CUNA’s research and polling indicated that voters react favorably to both candidates endorsed by credit unions and to candidates who support credit union issue positions.
The election results, particularly in the races where we communicated directly with credit union members, bear that out and offer a road map not only for future efforts at the ballot box but for grassroots campaigns on credit union legislation as well.
Next: What’s the outlook for CUs?