Alright, here we go. Let’s talk about The Election. Everyone’s favorite and least favorite topic at the same time — Decision 2020.
Specifically: How Democrats Win. My career in politics and campaigns has been primarily in field and organizing, so I’ve spent over 10 years putting together spreadsheets calculating the Path to Victory for different campaigns, and now I want to take you behind the scenes to see the Path to Victory with my new organization, Vote From Home 2020.
We saw in Wisconsin back in April, and most recently in Washington, DC, a lack of preparation and resources from election administration officials combined with vote suppressing rulings from conservative judiciaries drastically limited vote-by-mail opportunities. Without being able to easily vote-by-mail, voters were forced to choose between standing in line at polling locations — increasing their chances of exposure to COVID-19 — or voting at all. This choice became particularly evident in communities of color, where exposure to new voting systems is lower than in the wealthier, white areas but for whom exposure to COVID-19 has been up to 3X more fatal. We took our most vulnerable voters and people in the country, and made voting more difficult and dangerous for them.
Without a crystal ball, we don’t know what the situation with COVID-19 will be this fall. That’s why we must prepare now. It’s time to wake up and start implementing a plan so Trump doesn’t weasel his way into a second term amid a potential health crisis this fall.
So that’s what Vote From Home 2020 is here to do, and why we drafted our own Path to Victory.
We are building a grassroots movement to send mail-in ballot applications to voters as soon as possible, and then follow up on those applications with volunteer calls, texts, and digital ads to ensure that they are filled out and returned in time. We are running a new Get Out The Vote program, organizing to compensate for the realities forced on both volunteers and voters by the threat of COVID-19 and Donald Trump’s desire to suppress our right to vote. We have identified 2.5 million “dual risk” voters in three swing states. These are voters that are most likely to contract and die from COVID-19 and the least likely to request mail-in ballots.
Because we believe in transparency (and because I love building spreadsheets), here’s the math behind our plan:
- We start off with 3 targeted states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. These states represent 51 combined electoral votes, enough that if Biden carries them plus all of the states Hillary Clinton won in 2016, Democrats will take the White House.
2. In addition to being battleground states, all three of these states have historically lower rates of voters who vote-by-mail. In 2016, only 24.9% of Michigan voters, 4.2% of North Carolina voters, and 4.4% of Pennsylvania voters cast their ballots by mail. In 2020, however, each of these states allows voters to cast their ballots via mail without needing an excuse. There is no reason why we can’t get all of our voters in these swing states to vote safely and at home.
3. Based on election results from previous years, we can do some rough back of the envelope/Google doc math to project Democratic base-level performance for each state, and a vote goal based on getting 51% of the vote (Trump actually won each of these states in 2016 with less than 50% of the vote, so we’re overestimating the number of votes we need to win, but WAY better safe than sorry.)
4. Subtracting that base-level performance from the vote goal gives us an estimated “Dem Gap” — the number of votes we need to make up and turn out in each state in order to win. Pundits love to talk about the labels of who campaigns should target in order to make up for this gap. Us…not so much. We care about targeting the people most likely to get sick and die if they are exposed to COVID-19 or be subject to in-person voter intimidation or other suppression if they can’t vote-by-mail.
5. Now, we can also look at counts by county aggregated to statewide levels of the number of our targeted “dual-risk voters” in each state. These voters are most heavily concentrated in counties with large urban centers and/or significant populations of Black, Latinx, and AAPI voters. And to maximize efficiency, we are limiting our scope among these communities to target people who are likely to vote, but not anyone who is extremely likely to do so (i.e. we are not targeting super duper voters who have voted in every election since they were 18 years old OR the unregistered voters who have no history of voting at all — these are what we call “sporadic” or “drop-off” Democratic targets).
6. If we are able to mobilize these targets, and ensure that they are able to vote by getting them their applications and then chasing those down with our organizing program, we will have a big effect on these elections. Turning these voters out would account for 74.53% of our Dem Gap in Michigan, 67.7% in North Carolina, and 78.07% in Pennsylvania. That’s a huge chunk of the votes we need to win — all just by getting out the vote through a vote-by-mail program!!
Look, we’re not going to do this alone, but neither are any of us truly and completely helpless.
Are you fed up, mad, and going crazy with watching the news or social media each day and the new crises that each one seems to bring? Yeah, us too. Don’t let it get to you. Sign up TODAY with our grassroots movement, and let’s turn anxiety into action so we can work to WIN this election! We know what we need to do, we know how to do it, we know that it’ll work — we just need to join together and get it done.
I sincerely hope that you will join us. Let’s make it happen together.