There is plenty of material to write about but today I want to ignore most of it to concentrate on the Democrats’ 2020 presidential choices. Precious few words will be spent on the candidate; much more on the “how to win”. Let’s explore.
The following is not an endorsement; just something to consider. The one thing Democrats completely agree on at this point is that they want a candidate who can beat Donald Trump. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that in 2016 Hillary Clinton did a less than sterling job of campaigning and ended up losing. To date Elizabeth Warren has far and away run the best campaign. In my opinion she is one of four, perhaps five, candidates with a chance of being the nominee. In that respect it is still relatively early.
Where it is much clearer and not nearly as early is the winning game plan regardless of the nominee. Because of political polarization, the right wing media’s mythology machine and certain foreign disinformation campaigns the 2020 election will be a close one. Like all close elections it will come down to turnout. The way to increase turnout is via the ground game. (That can be successfully executed within a Senate campaign. Are you paying attention Stacey?)
That ground game comes down to doing three things: targeted registration, monitoring new registrants to make sure they vote and getting would be supporters off the couch and into the voting booth. In political operative parlance VR (voter registration) and GOTV (get out the vote).
People don’t vote primarily because they are not motivated to. Sadly the most effective way to motivate Americans is to anger and/or scare them. The Republicans had their motivation moment in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s 2008 victory when the racist non-voters formed the Tea Party. (Time has proven that racism was the primary motivation; not taxation or deficits.) Trump has provided the stimulus for Democratic leaning non-voters. Post 2016 turnout is on the rise and the Democrats are benefiting at a better than 2:1 ratio. If we look at the big gender demographics women tend to break in favor of the Democrats while men tend to break in favor of the Republicans. In 2018 55% of registered women voted as opposed to 52% of registered men. That is a small percentage difference but consider that women are a slightly larger population and all other factors held constant (which in the real world they won’t be) it would yield a Democratic win by a margin of 3 to 4 percent. Not a blowout, but reasonably comfortable.
All Democratic campaigns, state party organizations, local party organizations along with non-partisan groups should already be engaged in voter registration efforts. For those entities aligned with the Democrats the effort should be targeted at likely Democratic voters. With today’s sophisticated computer capabilities target lists and targeted spots can easily be generated. (This is aided by Tom Perez’s, to date very successful, policy of spending more money at the state and local levels.)
The next phase is door knocking and phone banking. Door knocking is much more labor intensive but also much more effective. A good phone person can contact five to ten people in the time it takes a door knocker to contact one. If you promise someone who comes to your door that you will vote you are much more likely to do so than if the promise is uttered over the phone. You can register people when you door knock while it is impossible to register people over the phone.
A comprehensive and effective GOTV program is much more complex than what I outlined above but those are the basics. The big resource is an abundance of volunteers. That is where most of us can contribute. Find a candidate (it doesn’t have to be presidential) that you believe in and volunteer. Increasingly it is looking like we the people are going to have to save our country ourselves.
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