All Hands On Deck
Democrats have the numbers. We just have to GOTV. Here’s what we need to elect a majority that will accomplish even more:
- Hold our 50 Senate seats (including competitive races in AZ, GA, NV) and gain 2-4 more seats (PA, NC, FL, WI) for a strong Democratic-majority.
- Hold our 219 House seats and win nearly all of the 33 competitive House seats for a strong Democrat-majority.
- Win as many of the 88 state legislative chambers up for reelection as possible because that is where critical decisions on our freedoms and rights, including voting and abortion rights, will be decided. Currently, the GOP controls 62 and Democrats control 36.
Every vote really counts. In election after election, we’ve seen how the winner is determined by as little as a few hundred votes. So when we say every vote counts, it’s true. Take a look:
- In 2000, Gore won the popular vote by 500K, but lost the Electoral College by 537.
- In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3M, but lost the Electoral College by less than 80K.
- In 2020, Joe Biden won the popular vote by over 7M, but won the Electoral College by only 42K votes.
- In 2000 and 2016, voter turnout was below 55%. In 2020 – a record year of 66% – one-third of eligible voters did not vote (that’s 82M eligible voters and 10M registered voters that did not vote).
- In the 2010 and 2014 midterms, voter turnout was abysmal at 42% and 37% respectively. In 2010 alone, Democrats lost control of 6 governorships and 700 state legislature seats. These losses gave the Republicans majorities in all levels of government – predominately in Swing States (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida) which allowed them to gerrymander and pass voter suppression laws.
- In the 2018 midterms, we had record turnout (at 50%) and picked up critical seats for a House majority. Imagine if we had turned out 55% of voters – we would have also won the Senate and state legislatures.
But what if I live in a blue state or a red state where my vote doesn’t matter? Voting is about building political power. It’s a chess move that requires looking beyond the immediate election or legislative results. Even if you are in a blue or red state, your vote matters up and down the ballot – in the local, state, and federal elections. Just look at what has happened since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court.
- In 5 special elections, Democratic candidates were expected to lose and/or perform poorly, and yet they significantly over-performed by an average of +7.
- Voters in ruby-red Kansas rejected the abortion ban by +18 pts with support from 20% of Republican voters.
- In NY-19, Democrat Pat Ryan beat a Republican who had been polling +5-8 pts higher in this purple district.
- In the Alaska House race, Mary Peltola beat Sarah Palin and will be the first Democrat to hold statewide office in 50 years. Keep in mind that Alaska went for Trump by +10 pts in 2020 and we didn’t even flip that seat in the 2018 blue wave.
Leave no voter behind. Democracy only exists if we participate in it. We do this by voting and getting others to vote. The majority of the 82M eligible voters that did not vote in 2020 – despite record turnout (66%) – are likely Democratic voters (women, people of color, young people) whose votes and voices have been suppressed and/or ignored. And with each voter suppression law Republican-state legislatures pass, it gets harder to vote which is why we all must make protecting our democracy a priority.
Make a commitment to volunteer regularly. The one thing that will be the death of our democracy is apathy. If the GOP wins in 2022 and 2024, our ability to hold democratic elections will end. 2020 was a test-run that was poorly executed, but it won’t happen again. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and hope someone else will take care of it. If we do the work, we can win. We just need to do it.
Start with your networks. Grassroots organizers are working to register eligible voters and get them to the polls, but they need our help because nothing moves the needle like relational organizing. (Relational organizing is reaching out to your network through phone, text, email or in person and making sure they are registered to vote and that they actually vote.)
- Ask all the young people you know if they are registered to vote. If not, help them get registered. Only 50% of young people (18-25 yrs old) voted in 2020.
- Have friends or kids who live abroad? Make sure they register to vote and get their ballots. It is estimated that 3M eligible voters live abroad, but only 7.8% voted in 2020. Here’s a link for those voters.
- Sign up NOW with a Dem grassroots organizing orgs to get on their mailing list for volunteer opportunities happening. Also, great to donate to these GOTV organizations!
If you have never phone-banked, text-banked, wrote postcards or knocked on doors, here’s what has helped us get over our reluctance to volunteer.
- Know your why. For us, each call is about making sure each person knows that their vote and voice matters. It’s about a better future not just for the next few years, but for the next 10-20 years and which candidate is most likely to lead us toward that better future.
- Be authentic. Organizers will always give you a script, but adapt it so it sounds like you. We always do two things when we call voters or knock on doors: 1) We apologize for bothering them since most people do not like getting political calls and it usually helps; and 2) We always say something like: “I’m a volunteer with X and we’re just calling around to make sure everyone gets out and votes.” We like to start general before getting specific. Figure out what works for you and do that.
- One vote can make all the difference. Don’t give up! It can take many, many hours to get that one vote. It’s worth it. Even if you only got one voter to vote in this election cycle, that would make a difference – especially in a Swing State!
- Volunteering delivers Democratic wins. In 2018, first-time volunteers all over the country came together to GOTV and delivered a Democratic House majority for the first time since 2010! In 2020, despite massive voter suppression by the GOP, we not only elected Biden (the first time in decades that an incumbent has not won), we held the House and flipped the Senate with a record high turnout due to a massive GOTV and fundraising effort.
LAST UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2022