CVSC and CVSC-PAC Drive 2.1 Million Voter Contacts in 2022 Elections
Through engagement in both electoral and ballot measure efforts, Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC) and allied organizations drove over 2,157,119 voter contacts this election cycle.
In 2022, CVSC and CVSC Political Action Committee (CVSC-PAC) invested in a wide array of mail, phone, digital, and door-to-door activities – for a total of 569,419 voter contacts – to support candidates committed to a clean energy future and a pollution-free South Carolina.
In addition, CVSC worked closely with conservation partners in Berkeley and Beaufort Counties to deploy robust “Vote Yes” campaigns in support of sales tax referendums to renew support for transportation and greenspace funding in Berkeley County and establish the state’s first-ever greenspace sales tax in Beaufort County. CVSC also worked alongside conservation partners in Dorchester County to educate voters about that County’s transportation and sales tax referendum. Across these three counties, CVSC and our allies made over 1.5 million voter contacts using mail, phone, digital, and text outreach to voters. If adopted, these three measures would generate nearly $200m for local land protection efforts.
CVSC endorsed 39 House candidates with opposition this cycle, including 20 Republicans and 19 Democrats. CVSC-PAC invested in each of these districts – through targeted mail, door-to-door voter contacts, or direct contributions. CVSC and CVSC-PAC also invested in 3 primary runoff contests (Districts 40, 48, and 106) with targeted mail, live calls, robocalls, and direct contributions.
The overarching theme around CVSC and CVSC-PAC’s electoral engagement was the election of pragmatic Representatives who will work across the aisle with their colleagues in the House to defend core environmental protections and who support bold land protection and clean energy goals.
CVSC and CVSC-PAC’s primary and runoff investments led to 22 victories and 2 losses, for a primary/runoff success rate of 91.7%.
CVSC and CVSC-PAC’s general election investments focused heavily on defending vulnerable conservation champions, particularly in the Lowcountry. Investments were largest in District 115 (Rep. Spencer Wetmore), District 116 (Rep. Chardale Murray), and District 119 (Rep. Leon Stavrinakis), given the changing dynamics of the districts after redistricting and their close nature in recent election cycles.
The total primary and general election investment for CVSC and CVSC-PAC totaled $175,023 and 569,419 voter contacts.
While the outcome of CVSC and CVSC-PAC’s general election investments won’t be known until the evening of Tuesday, November 8, one thing is clear: In both the primary and general elections CVSC and CVSC-PAC have stepped up to elect pragmatic leaders who will fight to advance clean air, clean water, and clean energy throughout South Carolina.
CVSC and our conservation allies launched robust campaigns this fall to lobby voters to vote yes for land protection funding in Beaufort and Berkeley Counties and to educate voters about a land protection referendum on the ballot in Dorchester County. CVSC and our allies made over 1.5 million voter contacts using mail, phone, digital, and text outreach to voters, showing that the conservation community has stepped up in a big way to protect the land and water we love in South Carolina.
These investments continue CVSC’s 20 year legacy of fighting to advance innovative policies that provide tools and funding to protect land and water throughout South Carolina, including the South Carolina Conservation Bank. Voters across the state and on both sides of the political aisle care about conservation, but it is up to CVSC and the conservation community to inform them about the needs and opportunities to fund conservation before it is too late.
Berkeley County: In Berkeley County, CVSC and conservation allies invested heavily in a “Vote Yes” effort to renew a 1% sales tax that, if approved, will provide $528.3 million for transportation improvements and $58.7 million for land protection efforts.
Deploying phone, text, and direct mail, CVSC and our allies made over 720,902 voter contacts to build support for the referendum as part of a $131,780 vote yes campaign, our largest referendum investment for this cycle. Other Berkeley County partners led a separate educational campaign, further increasing investments surrounding this referendum.
More information can be found at https://www.voteyesberkeley.com/
Beaufort County: In the 2021-2022 legislative session, CVSC and the Conservation Coalition were driving forces behind the passage of S.152 (later Act 166), which authorized counties to put forth referenda that would establish up to a 1% sales tax to protect greenspace. In August of 2022, Beaufort County became the first county to take advantage of this new land protection tool in South Carolina, referring a 1% sales tax for 2 years to voters in the hopes of generating up to $100 million for land protection.
Working closely with the Coastal Conservation League, Audubon South Carolina, Trust for Public Land, and other conservation partners, CVSC designed and managed a vote yes campaign, deploying phone, digital, and direct mail outreach through 236,149 voter contacts and a $32,398 campaign. CVSC and the same partners also completed public opinion polling that helped Beaufort County Council finalize the scope and scale of the greenspace referendum and provide confidence that a ‘vote yes’ campaign could be successful. Other Beaufort County partners led a separate educational campaign, further increasing investments surrounding this referendum.
More information can be found at https://www.voteyesforgreenspace.com/
Dorchester County: In Dorchester County, CVSC worked closely with partners at the Lowcountry Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, and Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust to design and manage a campaign to educate voters about the 1% sales tax referendum for transportation and greenspace projects. If approved, the referendum will provide $700 million for transportation improvements and $35 million for land protection efforts.
Mail, digital, and texting efforts were used to educate voters about the presence of the referendum on the ballot as well as the purpose of the referendum – namely, fixing roads and protecting land. The educational campaign drove 311,305 voter contacts as part of a $44,885 campaign. County leaders and others led the “Vote Yes” effort through Dorchester Citizens for Responsible Growth.
More information on the educational effort can be found at https://lowcountrylandtrust.org/dorchester-referendum/
The following summaries and example creative provide insight into CVSC’s 2022 investments.
- Open Seats – CVSC endorsed in 7 open seat races in strong Republican Districts (Dist 18, 27, 44, 46, 48, 97, and 106), investing an average of $7,000 per district. CVSC won 5 of the 7 and two led to runoffs. Note that Districts 18 and 97 were first elected in special elections in Spring of 2022, but CVSC considered these “open” seats for the purposes of tracking given that the incumbent had not been through a regular election cycle.
- Contested Seats – CVSC endorsed 2 challengers to Republican incumbents in the primary (Districts 40 and 52), with an average investment of $5,700 per district. Ben Connell defeated Vic Dabney while Tammy Johns entered a runoff.
- Defensive Races – CVSC endorsed 15 incumbents in the primary and invested an average of $4,400 per district. All incumbents won their primary, with the exception of Rep. West Cox. Districts include Districts 5, 10, 20, 22, 33, 43, 62, 71, 82, 89, 90, 91, 98, 102, and 112.
- CVSC had 3 endorsed candidates enter runoffs (Districts 40, 48, and 106). CVSC invested an average of $7,000 per district in the runoff, with successes in District 48 (Brandon Guffey) and 106 (Val Guest) and a loss in District 40 (Tammy Johns).
- Lowcountry Focal Races – A majority of CVSC’s investments for the general election focused on Charleston- area districts, specifically District 115 (Rep. Spencer Wetmore), District 116 (Rep. Chardale Murray), and District 119 (Rep. Leon Stavrinakis). CVSC investments in these races totaled $18,712 and relied heavily on direct mail contact.
- Other Defensive Races – CVSC’s other general election investments in 12 districts were more modest, averaging $1000 per district.
Vote Yes Campaigns:
As noted above, CVSC managed vote yes efforts in Beaufort and Berkeley Counties.
As noted above, CVSC managed educational efforts in Dorchester County.
Copies of additional mail and digital creative are available upon request from CVSC.
A full list of CVSC endorsed candidates is available at cvsc.org/elections/endorsements/.