David Valadao Wins

In 2020, former Congressman and Republican Candidate David Valadao beat the odds to retake the seat he had lost in 2018. But the celebration was short-lived when, after the 2020 Census was complete, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission voted 14-0 on a new congressional district map that put Valadao at a significant disadvantage. 

The new 22nd Congressional District gave Democrats an 17-point registration advantage and Latinos made up 60% of the new district.

The new 22nd Congressional District gave Democrats an 17-point registration advantage

Enter Democrat candidate and California Assemblyman Rudy Salas. Democrats identified Rudy Salas as one of their top candidates and spent millions attacking Valadao and supporting Salas in what would become one of the most expensive congressional contests in the nation. 

The Strategy

Aware of electoral and demographic challenges facing Valadao, the team at Arena worked to develop a comprehensive and targeted multi-channel campaign that would show how extremely liberal and out-of-touch Rudy Salas was. Rudy Salas’ record in the California Assembly provided plenty of bad votes and missed votes for the Valadao campaign to attack Salas. The team at Arena capitalized on Salas’ legislative record by tying him to the most unpopular policies of Biden and his liberal allies. 

At the same time, Arena helped demonstrate how David Valadao fights for the people of California’s Central Valley. Facing electoral and demographic challenges, Valadao had to be presented to voters as a fighter for the Central Valley and not for a particular party. 

The team at Arena knew they had the right messages against Salas and in support of Valadao, but had to deliver them efficiently to multiple audiences, in multiple languages. Not only did Valadao have to retain his base, but also earn the support of independent and Democrat voters alike.

David Valadao Wins

The Tactics

Through Arena’s use of microtargeting and sophisticated digital targeting, the campaign won over several unique audiences – including swing voters, Democrats, Spanish-speakers and low-propensity Republicans – in their mailbox as well as across devices from their mobile phone to their streaming television and everything in between. 

For the mail portion of the campaign, Arena utilized micro-targeting to deliver tailored messages to smaller specific audiences, reinforcing the work being done digitally and on broadcast television. 

Leveraging Arena’s in-house media buying team, the Valadao campaign was able to reach specific voters with targeted messages (in their preferred language) wherever they visited on the internet or on their streaming device. The Valadao campaign was always able to stay ahead of Democrats’ efforts by using OTT television retargeting to identify voters who were served ads from the Salas campaign and provide a response from the Valadao campaign.

The Result

The Valadao-Salas race would be one of the most expensive campaigns in the 2022 cycle with Democrats viewing it as a key race in their efforts to keep the majority in Congress. 

Despite millions being spent by the Salas campaign and Democrat outside groups, David Valadao overcame the disadvantages set up by redistricting and won 51.7% of the vote, denying Democrats victory in a district Joe Biden won by 13% just two years earlier. 

To learn how Arena’s industry-leading direct mail and digital advertising capabilities can help your campaign or advocacy group win, contact us now, or check out more case studies.

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