Since November 8, the team here at Progressive Turnout Project has spent a lot of time thinking about the 2016 election results and what they mean for 2017 and beyond. It’s easy to point out that for us Democrats things didn’t go as planned. Now we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I wanted to take a few minutes to share what we’re thinking with you.
Since we launched Progressive Turnout Project in July 2015, our Voter Turnout Movement has received over 300,000 contributions with an average contribution of just $15. In 2016, we put these grassroots contributions to work across 19 congressional districts by hiring more than 200 staff members who went door-to-door to have pivotal face-to-face conversations with sporadic Democratic voters that are proven to boost voter turnout. Our targeted voters received tailor-made live phone calls, mail, and digital advertisements in the final days of the campaign as well.
While our main focus is to win elections, our organization is also dedicated to learning and research. That’s why we built control and treatment groups into all of our voter turnout programs. As individual voter data comes back from the states over the next three months, we’ll be able to analyze the effectiveness of our canvass, phone, mail, and digital programs and make adjustments as we continue our electoral work in 2017 and 2018.
There will be plenty to do over the next two years. In addition to congressional races in 2018, Progressive Turnout Project recognizes that battles over gerrymandering, voting rights, and voter suppression are happening in statehouses across the country. That means we need to get involved in legislative races happening in states like North Carolina and Virginia in 2017.
Democrats have lost a staggering number of state house, state senate, and gubernatorial races over the past few years. We feel the effect of these losses every time we read a story about states like Ohio purging voters from the rolls or states like Wisconsin passing new and restrictive voter ID laws with the goal of suppressing the votes of low-income, minority, and young Americans. Not to mention the unfair congressional maps drawn by Republican legislators to help their friends in Washington. If we lose in the states, we cannot win in Washington.
In order to combat this state-by-state voter suppression, Progressive Turnout Project is currently hiring a team of Regional Field Directors who will start with us in the first quarter of 2017 and start engaging our supporters about what they can do to remain active in their corner of the country. That program will come in the form of our Community Action Network–PTP CAN. We’ll be sharing more about that program and how to sign up in the coming weeks.
There’s no doubt that 2016 ended on a sour note. There’s nothing worse than losing the White House. But I believe in looking for the silver lining and I see it in the fact that Democrats won the popular vote, 2 additional Senate seats, and 6 additional House seats. Now, if we can expand our reach to the states and stop Republican voter suppression, we can win again. For that, our team here at Progressive Turnout Project resolves to maintain our energy and focus in 2017, and we hope that we can count on you to continue to stand with us.
~Alex Morgan, Executive Director