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Cecil Says Strong Candidates Helped DSCC Win

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the group made gains by treating each race as a choice between two people, not a reflection of the national climate or the presidential contest.

In discussing how Democrats won, Cecil withheld judgment on the performance of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Instead, he said the NRSC had to deal with a dynamic the DSCC did not. He said mainstream Republicans such as Thompson and George Allen in Virginia had to tack to the right just to survive their primaries, and then were unable to attract the moderates necessary to win general elections.

Beyond that, Cecil touted the ads that the DSCC IE unit and the individual campaigns ran. They stood out, he said, from the Republican ads that often looked similar from one state to another.

“If you believe Senate races are just national elections that will only mirror the presidential election, then you believe that those type of ads are the ads to run everywhere,” he said. “Believing that the election is a choice between two people on the ballot changes the way you think about those ads.”

The DSCC also worked with campaigns in non-presidential states to model the electorate and score each voter for how likely they were to be moved. The DSCC and the campaigns used that model for targeting decisions on direct mail, canvassing and phones. The modeling also allowed the committee to look at polling results through the model prism.

“There’s a lot of data being poured into these models,” Cecil said. “They performed pretty true to form.”

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