No Safe States. No Off-Years. No Time to Lose.
In California, Democrats are beating back an anti-vaccination Republican recall. Across the country, voters are demonstrating against closed polling places and other voter suppression laws. And in New Jersey and Virginia, voters will cast their ballots by November 2 in important statewide elections.
The stakes are clear: there are no safe states, no off-years, and no time to lose in mobilizing Democratic voters.
With that in mind, Progressive Turnout Project has been hard at work hiring, training, and strategizing for our voter turnout programs, this year and next. And with our supporters more involved in our success every day, we wanted to share with you our plans for 2021–2022.
Our mission is to rally Democrats to vote — but that’s about more than just winning each election.
All our work at Progressive Turnout Project is to build power for the long term. We’re here to share resources, implement strategy and offer our expertise for the advancement of Democrats (and democracy itself), cycle after cycle.
We focus on:
- Talent: Hiring, training, and fairly paying organizers who can run voter contact programs and help voters fight against suppression
- Data: Giving Democrats an edge in field with data, rigorously collected in the field and interpreted by experts
- Training: Not letting that knowledge evaporate after Election Day, sharing best practices with campaigns, and make the case for direct voter contact
- Innovation: Trying new tactics and messages to keep us on the frontier of field organizing, measuring what works, and making our programs as effective as possible per grassroots dollar
To that end, we’re thrilled to be expanding our most successful recent programs — like our signature field programs and Turnout Fellows — and piloting new ones, including a relational organizing program and grassroots grants.
This week, our 2021 Turnout Fellows started work in New Jersey and Virginia, empowering our endorsed campaigns to knock more doors and reach more voters.
What’s even more exciting: This is the first-ever class of Turnout Fellows we’ve placed in state legislative races. This is a huge deal, especially with state legislatures proving more consequential every day. Adding just one full-time staff member can make all the difference, especially in the out-of-the-spotlight races Democrats need to win.
From 2018 to 2020, we placed 277 Fellows on Federal campaigns. In 2021–2022, we plan to place 3,159 Fellows across the country, representing a total investment of $18 million.
Read more: Turnout Fellows Program
Our commitment to voter turnout includes testing, refining, and trying new ways to maximize our impact on voter turnout. In 2021, we’re excited to be piloting a relational organizing program in Virginia.
Relational organizing is, simply put, the idea that the most effective get-out-the-vote messages come from people already in a voter’s network — their friends, family, and neighbors. Our pilot program is modeled on amazing work the Jon Ossoff campaign pioneered for the January Senate runoff election.
For this pilot program, we’ll be recruiting voters in the Hampton, VA area to become Community Mobilizers, paying them to talk with their communities about the November 2 election. We’ll use results from this pilot to refine potential future relational organizing programs.
Postcards to Swing States
Another success story from 2020 is the Postcards to Swing States program. What started in a garage outside Chicago ended 2020 with 21 million postcards sent, and mobilized thousands of first-time activists to take on direct voter contact.
We’re excited to have brought Postcards to Swing States into the PTP organization to keep that momentum going. In addition to the 3 million postcards we’re sending this year to New Jersey and Virginia voters, volunteers are already sending postcards to key 2022 Senate states.
Here’s how it works: We send volunteers stacks of postcards for free, along with the list of addresses and the message to write. Volunteers write the postcards, supply their own postcard stamps, and drop them in the mail closer to Election Day.
Postcards work — and we’ll be sharing details of how and why at a September 29 Zoom call with supporters. The short version: Direct voter contact is still the best way to reach people, and every additional “touch,” whether at the door or in their mailbox, means someone is more likely to vote.
In addition to the expanded Fellows and Postcards to Swing States programs, we’re already working on our time-tested field programs for key 2022 states.
While our 2020 program shifted to phones due to the pandemic, door-to-door canvassing remains our bread and butter. Like all our work, canvassing is built on the proven success of one-on-one conversations in turning out the vote.
At Progressive Turnout Project, that looks like hundreds of trained Field Representatives knocking doors in their communities, talking to registered voters (and likely Democrats) about their voting habits, and following up with additional conversations and making a plan to vote.
Our target states for 2022 include key Senate races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania:
We’re also excited to debut a new Grassroots Grants program in 2022, sending at least $1 million to voter contact organizations pursuing innovative strategies to get more Democrats to vote. This new initiative will complement our own work while supporting additional research and building capacity for direct voter contact within the party.
And, of course, our Turnout Fellows program will be back next year — and bigger than ever. The 3,159 Fellows we’ll support in 2021–2022 will work directly with Federal and state legislative campaigns across the country. Our 2022 watchlist includes all the states with light blue dots above.
There’s no shortage of ways you can get involved, too: