On the midterms, one structural take that I think has been lost. The mass politicization and grassroots organizing of the Trump years have resulted in a standing blue army of battle-ready voters, donors, organizers. It’s just hard to outvote them. ~Joseph O’Neill
I hope you’ve gotten some sleep. I’m sure you’ve needed it.
And I hope you’re smiling.
Last week, in the morning on Election Day, I had a conversation with a very smart, very accomplished, very experienced Democrat. He’s been in politics for decades. He’s changed our party for the better, multiple times.
He said he expected we’d lose tens of seats. (I think his estimate was 40, but it may have been 20 – I had multiple conversations with people that day, all predicting similarly dire results.).
He asked what my prediction was.
I said I had no idea. And I meant it.
He was visibly agitated (I know he thought I was being naive).
He said he was truly worried about how I would do on Tuesday night. He was concerned that when Democrats got shellacked, I would be inconsolable.
And I totally understood that reaction and sentiment.
I just … didn’t believe we’d get shellacked.
So I smiled, and shrugged, and we went on with our conversation about our organizing work.
Since the election, in which we did not get shellacked, I’ve heard from plenty of other women who had similar conversations with (often male) colleagues who assured them we would lose handily.
Historically the President’s party loses big in the midterm. Historically, the president’s party is not as motivated to vote in a midterm. Historically, voters punish the president’s party for high inflation.
To hear it explained, it’s as certain as the sun coming up in the morning.
But (as you know) I’ve said for months that I did not envy the pollsters in this election. And what’s funny is that I felt that way precisely because of history. It’s what pollsters base predictions on. Voter turnout models, in particular, are based on precedent.
The only problem? We are living in Unprecedented Times.
If history is to be your primary guide, but every election is historic (and it has been for the last three cycles at least), it’s just common sense that history is not as accurate a predictor as it once was.
So that was my first issue with prognosticators.
The second was more personal. Pollsters also missed the big blue elephant (errr… donkey) in the room.
They ignored the big blue wildcard standing right in front of them.
Since 2016, huge swaths of the country (especially women) have gotten politically engaged.
With new organizations, new organizing tools, new messaging strategies, new ways to register voters, turn out voters, cure ballots…
Then, in June of this year, the radically partisan Supreme Court handed down a life-altering decision on an issue that disproportionately impacts … women.
Immediately, voter registration of young women surged – especially in red states. Democrats started raising more money into their campaigns. Abortion funds were launched. Really creative relational organizing campaigns like those led by Red, Wine & Blue launched.
Maybe I saw those more clearly because I’m in the middle of them. Maybe they were ignored because they’re not run by folks in Washington. Honestly, I don’t know.
But the flurry of activity that I saw leading up to Election Day did not tell the story of a depressed electorate.
It told the story … of you.
Of your work. Of you engaging and encouraging a vibrant voting block that’s dedicated to democracy. Not some fickle population with a short attention span.
Of course, we need to pay attention to where we did well, and where we can do better. There are plenty of lessons. We’ll learn them and build on them.
But for today, I want you to know that the lesson a lot of pundits, and pollsters, and prognosticators should have learned from this cycle is…
…Democrats do have a Blue Wall.
Bless you for being strong and resilient. For taking on more than you should, for making time when you have none, and for continuing to try even when Everyone Who Knows said it was hopeless.
I see you.
I appreciate you.
So get some rest, have a celebratory cupcake (or five), and then…
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of November 15, 2022
Most urgent: Help Cure Ballots
The majority in the House may be decided by … one race. (And watching the House with such a slim majority will be a wild ride all on its own, especially when we normally lose a dozen or so House members over the course of two years. But I digress…)
We’ve got to make sure every vote is counted. So opportunities to “cure” ballots – help voters fix any issues with their otherwise-properly cast votes – are critical.
California: Tuesday from 12-2pm pacific (https://www.mobilize.us/mobilize/event/543407/)
in partnership with the California Democratic Party, Swing Left West Valley, Stockton Democrats Together, Chop Wood Carry Water, Westside Democratic Headquarters, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Heat of LA Democratic Club, and SoCal Blue
This virtual ballot curing phone bank targets key CA House races. Don’t worry if you’ve never cured ballots before. They will provide a training at the top of each shift.
Arizona: Tuesday and Wednesday (multiple shifts) (https://www.mobilize.us/grassrootsdemocratslahq/event/543408/)
in partnership with the Swing Left West Valley, Stockton Democrats Together, Chop Wood Carry Water, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Heart of LA Democratic Club, Miracle Mile Democratic Club, and SoCal Blue
This virtual ballot curing phone bank targets AZ-01 (Jevin Hodge), AZ-06 (Kirsten Engel), and down-ballot races. Don’t worry if you’ve never cured ballots before. They will provide a training at the top of each shift.
If you are interested in doing in-person ballot curing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Colorado: Wednesday (in person)
The race that everyone is slack-jawed about is Lauren Boebert’s (or, as my husband likes to call her, the “one who slings a gun and wears heels”).
As of yesterday afternoon, the Colorado Angertainment Queen is ahead of Democrat Adam Frisch by a little over 1,000 votes – and there will be another drop tomorrow afternoon – the deadline for military and overseas ballots. (https://www.cpr.org/2022/11/14/lauren-boebert-adam-frisch-race-update-colorado-3rd-congressional-district/)
Flipping this district would be *chef’s kiss*.
Both parties are helping voters resolve any issues with their ballots – though as of today there are no remaining slots to phone bank to help cure ballots for Frisch. Still, if you are in the area, consider canvassing to help voters understand the need to cure their ballot. You can do that here: https://www.mobilize.us/buildthehouseco/event/543507/
Here we go again, right? Georgia’s Senate race between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Hershel Walker will head to a runoff in early December. Georgia’s GOP is already doing everything it can to make the voting period short and inconvenient. This will make it harder – not easier – than the last runoff.
Here are some ways you can pitch in. I’ll add more next week.
Tried and true – Postcards to Voters: As of Monday, Postcards to Voters had already assigned over a quarter million addresses. But there are plenty more to go. If you are not already a PtV approved writer, text JOIN to (484) 275-2229 or email Join@TonyTheDemocrat.org
Already an approved writer? Here are three easy ways to request your addresses:
1. Text HELLO to (484) 275-2229 or
2. Message HELLO to Abby the Address Bot on our Slack channel here: https://bit.ly/SlackAbby or
3. Send an email to: Request@AbbyAddresses.org
Super easy, creative, effective postcards – no writing required: Using your list of contacts, WFP will send a postcard to your friends with YOUR PHOTO on it! This is super-creative and doesn’t require you to do much more than attend a virtual phone session. Very cool. Join today, tomorrow, or Saturday: https://www.mobilize.us/mobilize/event/543370/
Phone Bank: Join Field Team 6, The Union, Fearless and Georgia NOW in contacting Democrats in Georgia (that they helped to register) and getting them out to vote for Reverend Warnock. Multiple dates and times: https://www.mobilize.us/mobilize/event/543428/
Missouri Folks: Comment Period for Ashcroft’s Book Ban/Assault on Libraries Is Open
In Missouri, the Secretary of State holds the keys to the 160 local public libraries, which receive funding from the state. This year they’re collectively set to receive around $3.5 million.
To understand why he’s now targeting them, consider three things:
• He’s running for governor in 2024, and
• Book bans have become catnip for conservatives, and
• Libraries receive funding on a per capita basis. So St. Louis City and County library systems collectively receive over $1.1 million in funding (not including the many municipal libraries that aren’t part of the City/County library system), with Kansas City libraries not far behind. Those areas – beyond being the economic drivers for the state – are liberal bastions.
• Public libraries don’t just provide books.
In St. Louis city and county, for example, they provide… voter registration. And voting locations – including for our new no-excuse absentee voting. And notary services for those mail-in ballots. And computer access. And social services, like free legal clinics from defense attorneys. Covid testing. After-school and summer meals. Diapers and period supplies. Gun locks.
Heck – St. Louis libraries have musical instruments, telescopes, science kits, fishing rods…
They’re … fantastic resources. I cannot tell you how much I love our local libraries, which we visit daily.
What better way to “stick it to the libs” than to threaten their public libraries with a vague rule that they can use as a political cudgel to slash their budgets?
There are so many ways this rule is problematic that it’s tough to find a focus. It prohibits using funds to “purchase or acquire materials in any form that appeal to the prurient interest of any minor” (no definition of prurient provided); requires libraries to adopt a policy “allowing any minor’s parent or guardian to determine what materials and access will be available to a minor” – and prohibits the library staff from providing access beyond that approved by the parent; prohibits displaying “age-inappropriate” materials in any form…
It appears to be intentionally vague.
I think EveryLibrary ED John Chrastka (who called it a “First Amendment minefield”) says it best: “We need to reengage with the idea that when a book is relevant to an age group or topic, any individual parent may still feel that book is inappropriate for their own child, but that decision should not negate or eliminate access for every other family in the community.” https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/90680-missouri-proposes-new-protection-of-minors-rule-for-libraries.html
As you can imagine, the Missouri Library Association has come out strongly against this rule. See their statement here: http://molib.org/
Please take a moment and comment on the rule. If I provide you with a draft comment to cut and paste, it could be batched and discarded as a duplicate. So please use your own words to call out this violation of free speech and a thinly-veiled political stunt that does nothing to promote literacy and does a lot to curb free thought.
***Comments can be sent via snail mail or email. Per the rule (linked below), address them to Missouri Secretary of State, PO Box 1767, Jefferson City, MO 65102 or by email to email@example.com with the proposed rule number (i.e., 15 CSR 30-200.015) in the subject line.
I AM BEGGING YOU TO INCLUDE THE RULE NUMBER IN YOUR SUBJECT LINE: Per their notice of rulemaking, comments submitted via email must include “15 CSR 30-200.015” in the subject line. They can – and likely WILL – ignore your comment if you don’t follow their rules and include the rule number in your email. I am seeing lots of folks – including the library associations – omitting that requirement in their statements encouraging folks to comment. Do not give them the ability to throw out your input.
WHEW! GO TEAM!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.