It’s no secret that Republicans have a cash advantage over Democrats and nowhere is that more obvious in Michigan. The sinking ship that is Terri Lynn Land’s Senate campaign still managed to outraise her Democratic opponent Gary Peters by over $1 million last quarter. Governor Rick Snyder outraised his Democratic opponent Mark Schauer by over $2 million. Much of the money flooding into Republican coffers comes from special interest Super PACs and wealthy individual donors who are intent on keeping the corporatist status quo in place.
But, as LOLGOP so eloquently described last week, there is one thing that can defeat all of this massive spending: person-to-person contact:
There is no voter outreach strategy in politics more effective than a volunteer showing up and knocking on a door. It’s the kind of outreach money literally can’t buy.
Thus: When progressives get out the vote, Democrats win. […]
The Koch brothers and other right-wing funders know this and they’re trying to create activists with his kind of commitment and knowledge and charm in captivity. And they’ll fail far more often than they succeed.
Whether it’s on the phone or, more importantly, in person, direct voter contact by grassroots volunteers like you and me can make ALL of the difference.
My blogging and organizing (in addition to my day job and work chores) too often keep me from the campaign trail but I am determined to change that because I am so certain that I can make a difference in this way. This past weekend, I went out to talk to voters about our candidates in the 7th Congressional District. Pam Byrnes (for Congress), Gretchen Driskell (for State House), and Shari Pollesch (for State Senate) are all running to help change the complexion of our government from red to blue and they need our help.
This was the first time I have had a chance to try out the new MiniVAN smart phone/smart tablet app and I came away impressed and thrilled by how easy it is to use.
Here’s a little promo for the app which is also available for Android devices:
When you use the app instead of traditional paper walk lists, you avoid the need to enter the data twice. Instead, when you record the results of your canvassing in the app, it automatically uploads the data into the Voter Activation network (VAN) database, avoiding the need for entering it manually. The creators of the app, NGP VAN, say it reduces bad address error rates from 5.7% to 2.5%. It also frees up valuable volunteer and intern time that can be used for other important tasks like reaching out to potential volunteers.
My canvassing was very illuminating. As a blogger and an active Democratic volunteer, I am immersed in politics. The mistake we make in this situation is to think that the rest of the world is paying attention as closely as we are. What I learned during my discussions with people on their front doorstep is that many people are decidedly NOT paying attention to the election right now. Many are not even aware of who is running and that includes our Democratic supporters.
This is why the person-to-person contacts are so crucial. If we hope to get our candidates elected, the voters in our area must hear from their campaigns. After Saturday, thanks to me and a dozen other volunteers in my area, a lot more people are aware of who our fine candidates are. That’s how persuasion begins and its importance cannot be overstated. UPDATE: Turns out we made over 2,200 calls and knocked almost 2,000 doors.
A great deal of resources are pouring into Michigan and other battleground states from a number of national organizations. This is allowing the Michigan Democratic Party to open dozens of Coordinated Campaign offices across the state. By the time September arrives, they’ll have a total of ~140 organizers and ~35 other staffers on the ground, working with people in every county in the state to turn out Democrats on Election Day. It’s unprecedented for a midterm election year.
It’s also allowing the MDP to start programs like one they recently kicked off in Detroit to help Detroiters apply for absentee ballots online:
Detroit elections are entering the digital age with the help of Democrats.
Detroit City Clerk Janet Winfrey, alongside Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson, on Wednesday announced a new smart phone and online application process available to voters wishing to secure an absentee ballot.
Detroit is the first city in the state to move to an electronic application process, although up to three more cities are expected to announce similar plans between next week up through the primary election in August with “many more” before the general election, Johnson said.
In the past, Detroit only accepted absentee ballot applications via mail, fax and hand delivery. Johnson cited the inability to obtain an authentic digital signature as the reason but says new technology makes it possible.
“We know we want to engage the least likely voter,” Winfrey said. “For this election, it is the 18- to 35-year-old, and we know that the least likely voter has their cell phone attached to their hip so why not be able to use their smart phone to request an absentee ballot?”
The MDP’s Coordinated Campaign, along with all of the candidate campaigns, are conducting phone banks and canvassing nearly every single day across the state. Contact your local candidates’ campaigns or click HERE to help with the Coordinated Campaign that is working for ALL of our candidates.
We face an uphill battle against the massive spending of Republicans. None of that spending, however, can overcome the power of grassroots volunteers knocking on doors and making calls. We need all hands on deck for this important midterm election and to return control over our government to Democrats who are fighting for our values and not the interests of the wealthy and of corporations.
Won’t you join me on the campaign trail? Once you’ve done it once or twice, you’ll realize it’s not scary and is actually quite fun. And then, on November 5th, you’ll be able to say you did everything you could to ensure Democratic victories up and down the ticket.