Competing Everywhere: Why Every Vote is a Victory 

About Us: Progressive Turnout Project is the largest voter contact organization in the country, specifically dedicated to mobilizing the Democratic Party and defending democracy. Our mission: rally Democrats to vote. In the 2022 election cycle, our team of more than 5,000 knocked 1.7 million doors in support of Democrats up and down the ballot.

This cycle, Progressive Turnout Project made a huge commitment in support of our mission to rally Democrats to vote. We invested countless hours and millions of dollars not just in key swing states like Georgia and Pennsylvania, but in redder states too.

Here’s why: Democratic campaigns in states unlikely to flip in over the course of a single election cycle are difficult. Time, money, and manpower are in short supply, and national organizations are often reluctant to make an investment where they may not see a win.  

At Progressive Turnout Project, we understand the impact of a multi-cycle investment, and how they power future Democratic victories up and down the ballot. 

Early support and continued investment in a state helps to build and maintain a community of effective progressive organizers. And, in engaging with voters, these organizers are creating  lifelong voters who are more likely to turn out year after year. By committing to multi-cycle investments, we’ll be able to gain footholds in areas of the country that have been neglected in search of immediate Democratic wins. 

In the long-term, that’s a victory in itself. And in North Carolina, there were short-term victories at the state level, too. Democrats prevented Republicans from gaining a supermajority in Raleigh, meaning Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto power was maintained intact — by a one-seat margin

Here it is in action 

Photo Sue took of the area where she was canvassing in Haywood County.

North Carolina has historically leaned red, and voted Republican in nine of the last 10 presidential elections. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the investment. In the 2021–22 election cycle, we invested over one million dollars, placed 99 Campaign Fellows, and worked with 139 Field Representatives in North Carolina. 

Sue was one of those North Carolina Field Representatives this cycle, knocking doors in House District 11.  In Sue’s district, she knocked over 600 doors in 10 different precincts. Direct voter contact, the one-on-one conversations that Sue was having, is the most effective way to boost voter turnout.

Sue got her start in politics canvassing first for President Obama, and then with the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016. 

“I felt like it was do-or-die when Trump announced his candidacy,” Sue said. 

Sue lives in Haywood County, in Western North Carolina. Haywood County was a Democratic-leaning swing county up until 2000, when it started to trend red. 

“Now it’s mountainous Trump country,” Sue said. “So canvassing was a challenge.”

The political landscape wasn’t the only change in the county this cycle. Last year, many of the addresses in the county were changed. The county got rid of things like half addresses and even-numbered houses on the odd side of the street to accommodate a new emergency response system. 

“They changed at least half of the addresses in the town where I live, and in the other towns in the county as well,” Sue said. 

The people of Canton County were in no rush to adapt to the new system. Some residents haven’t changed the numbers on the outside of their homes, or have removed them entirely, making it a difficult area to canvass.

Photo Sue took of the area where she was canvassing, with many streets misnamed and houses unnumbered.

“When I got to my very first address, there weren’t even any houses there,” Sue recalled. “My first two days I was ready to give up.” 

Sue called Addison, her Field Representative Organizer and “told me she just didn’t think this was a good job for her,” Addison said. “I talked her through how to select a turf and she started her list.” Whitney, another Field Representative Organizer in North Carolina, called with some more tips. 

Sue stuck with it. She kept canvassing the area, in spite of missing homes, rough terrain, and scattered wildlife. 

“Sue became one of our most reliable — and entertaining — canvassers,” Addison said.

“I really felt that it was so important to try to get the word out,” Sue said.

Sue found the experience heartening, and loved talking and connecting with the people in the area.  

I spoke with a blind woman who told me that she had always been a Republican,” Sue recalled. “Her whole mindset changed. That made me feel so good.”

These conversations build connections, foster community, and they are the most effective tool we have to rally Democrats to vote. That’s why we spend our time and resources knocking doors — especially the houses like those in rural North Carolina that other organizations leave behind.  
We’re dedicated to mobilizing the Democratic Party and defending democracy, but we rely on small-dollar donations to power our work. To help, you can contribute here, add your resume to our talent bank, or  volunteer to rally Democrats to vote.