Choose Your Core Four · Community Activism · Elections · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Believe It, You Matter, Part VIII: No Matter What the Polls Say, Act Like Your Candidates Are Ten Points Behind

This OTYCD post originally appeared in August 2018. As we head into 2020, and the fight that it promises, it’s time to repost some classics.

 

No matter what the polls say, always act like your candidates are ten points behind.

 

If you’ve been watching the polls on “generic Democratic Congressional candidates” vs the GOP, you know that they’ve been all over the place–sometimes giving the Dems a huge lead, sometimes showing the GOP closing the gap.

 

Ignore those polls.

 

Ok, let’s be more specific. No matter what’s happening with the polls, always act like the candidates you’re supporting are ten points behind. Even if they’re not.

 

2018 promises to be the most consequential midterm election in several decades, and possibly the most consequential since midterms began. [Do I need to tell you that 2020 will be bigger than 2018? Yeah.]

 

You need to focus and stay focused on your candidates. (You’re using the Core Four technique, yes?)

 

Keep talking to friends and family about them. Keep volunteering for them. Keep donating to them regularly (small sums given monthly are better than a big lump sum given once). Keep boosting them on social media.

 

Stick to your schedule of self-imposed breaks. Burnout is a thing. We need you. Yes, things are bad and this election is crucial, but still, don’t try to do everything all the time or you won’t be able to do anything.

 

And! Keep talking to friends and family about voting, and make sure everyone you know is registered to vote, knows where the polling place is, and knows how they’re getting there on the day.

 

Polls say many things. Don’t be lulled into complacency if your candidates are doing well.  Keep putting in the same amount of time, money, and effort that you’ve put in all along, and encourage everyone you know who’s game to do more than show up and vote to do whatever else they’re willing to do, whatever that is.

 

Stay strong. Stay steady. Stay focused.

 

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Candidates · Elections · Vote with your Dollars

Headsup: The FEC Q4 Deadline Is TODAY. Please Donate to Democrats Before Midnight

Headsup: The Federal Election Commission’s donation deadline for the fourth quarter of 2019 is in one week. 

 

If you have money to spare–and we know it’s the holidays, and we know every charity has been nudging you to give before the calendar year ends–now is the time to give to sitting Democratic members of Congress, Democrats who have declared their intent to run against Republicans in 2020, and Democratic candidates for president.

 

Fairly or not, quarterly fundraising numbers are considered a sign of a candidate’s strength. Giving money to a candidate or a Congressperson who’s up for re-election in 2020 before a quarterly FEC deadline is a way to cast a vote for that candidate with dollars instead of a ballot.

 

In addition to giving to members of your Congressional delegation who are up in 2020, you can donate to Democrats who are taking heat from Republicans on the regular, to show tangible support for them.

 

It’s equally wise to cast a “vote” for Congressional Democrats who are quietly getting things done but not drawing any media attention.

 

Because they are critical to candidates’ success, we’ll keep doing quarterly reminders about FEC deadlines in perpetuity.

 

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Choose Your Core Four · Community Activism · Elections · Postcard Campaigns · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Choose Your Core Four PLUS a Voting Rights Org to Support in 2020

 

Choose your Core Four*–two Democratic senators and two Democratic house reps, an incumbent and a challenger for each chamber–to support to in 2020. PLUS, choose a voting rights organization to support as well. 

 

From late 2016 until now, we’ve been going to bat for Democratic candidates in individual special elections. Usually, we’ve supported one Democrat at a time.

 

2018 was a big test of our collective resolve. We did well. The work we put in helped shift control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats. Had we failed, Trump would be steaming ahead unchecked. But we didn’t, and he’s now only the third impeached president in American history. (As of this writing, he is awaiting trial in the Senate.)

 

Literally hundreds of races–35 senators (33 plus two special elections), and all 435 House reps–are taking place, and all of them will end on November 3, 2020.

 

We need to fight to keep control of the House of Representatives (likely, but hey, never treat anything as a certainty), and we have a shot at wresting control of the Senate away from Mitch McConnell and the GOP (tough, but doable).

 

We at OTYCD suggest that you prepare for what’s coming by choosing your “Core Four”–four Democratic candidates who will receive the bulk of your efforts–PLUS an organization that actively supports and defends the right to vote.

 

Your Core Four Plus Should Include:

 

Two Democrats for the House of Representatives.

Two Democrats for the Senate.

One incumbent and one challenger for each chamber of Congress.

AND an organization such as Stacey Abrams’s Fair Fight, Andrew Gillum’s Forward Florida Action, and Flip the Texas House, which Beto O’Rourke is throwing in with.

 

 

How to Pick Your Core Four

 

There’s no right way or wrong way to choose your Core Four, but we suggest starting in your own backyard, with the members of Congress who represent your state.

 

If you don’t know who your members of Congress are, go to this website and plug your street address into the search engine:

whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

…then research the three names–one House rep and two Senators–that come up.

 

Do you have a good Democratic House Rep? Then embrace him or her.

 

Do you have a lousy House Rep, or is your district’s seat being vacated? Look up the Democratic challengers for the seat and choose one. Look to Ballotpedia.org for help with finding challengers in your federal district.

 

One-third of all senators will be up for re-election in 2020, and there will be two special elections also: One in Arizona, for the seat to which Martha McSally was appointed following the death of John McCain; and one in Georgia, to fill the seat vacated by Johnny Isakson.

 

It’s possible that at least one of your senators (and possibly both) is due to run (but scroll down for a list of states where neither senator has to run).

 

Is one or both of your senators up for re-election? Are they good Dems? If so, embrace them and get behind them.

 

Is your senator who’s running for re-election a lousy senator? Learn about the Democratic challengers for the seat, and be ready to help a challenger however you can. As always, Ballotpedia.org is your friend here.

 

Your help can take the form of time, money, word of mouth, or some combination of the three. But you need to choose your four Democrats, and you need to think seriously about how you will juggle the needs of all four, plus the voting rights organization.

 

You’ll need to sit down and plot this out as you might plot a semester’s course schedule in college. The demands of the four candidates will overlap and they’ll all come due at the same time–in the weeks and days leading up to November 3, 2020. You’ll also have to factor in appointments and life events of your own, too, of course.

 

 

Choosing your Core Four: A Test Case

 

Let’s say you live in California.

 

Your House Rep is up for re-election because they all are. Is yours a good Democrat? Then you have your House incumbent settled.

 

If your House Rep is not a good Democrat, or is a lousy Republican, or is retiring, check Ballotpedia and see who’s challenging for the seat.

 

Let’s assume for the sake of this example that your House Rep is a good Dem. There’s one of your four settled.

 

Now look for a challenger who’s aiming to take a terrible House Republican out.

 

How about Tedra Cobb? She hopes to push freshman House Rep Elise Stefanik out of New York’s 21st Congressional District. Stefanik, you will recall, made a fool of herself by going Full Metal Trumpista during the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry at the tail of 2019. Decent choice. Allocate time and money to Cobb. There. You’ve chosen your two House Dems, one incumbent and one challenger.

 

 

Now turn to the senators. It so happens that neither of the incumbent senators from California are up for re-election in 2020. You are free to devote your resources elsewhere.

 

Doug Jones of Alabama is up in 2020, and he’s regarded as the most vulnerable sitting Democratic Senator. How about you get behind him?

 

Now look for a candidate who hopes to push out a terrible sitting Republican Senator. You’re spoiled for choice here, truly. Maybe consider Jaime Harrison, who’s running against Lindsay Graham in South Carolina.

 

And there’s your Core Four: Your good incumbent Democratic House Rep, Tedra Cobb in New York state, Doug Jones in Alabama, and Jaime Harrison in South Carolina.

 

Of course, you can choose more than four Congressional candidates to back. But the idea here is to help you focus.

 

If you can take on more than four candidates, do it. But four is just enough, in our opinion–more than one, but still a number small enough to count on one hand.

 

Because it’s 2020, and because fighting dirty is kind of the Republican brand now, we’re asking you to pick a Core Four Plus, with the plus being an organization that fights for voting rights. We named three above, but they’re not the only three that are out there. We will devote a separate, periodically updated post that lists voting rights orgs, and we’ll link it here in a few places once it’s ready.

 

You can certainly look to orgs such as Swing Left, Sister District, Emily’s List, and the like to help you make your choices. The main thing is nowrightnow is the time to think seriously about those choices.

 

 

Also, if you live in one of the states listed below, neither of your Senators is up for re-election, and you can devote your resources to incumbents and candidates in other states:

 

California

Connecticut

New York state

Florida

Indiana

Maryland

Missouri

North Dakota

Nevada

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Washington state

Wisconsin

Utah

Vermont

 

* Our ‘Core Four’ only covers federal Congress races. You might have other important races happening at the state and local level–for governor, attorney general, mayor, what have you. Please don’t neglect those races.

 

 

 

See the website for Ballotpedia.org:

https://ballotpedia.org/Main_Page

 

Visit the website of Swing Left, which focuses on taking back the House of Representatives:

https://swingleft.org

 

Visit the website of Sister District, which connects you with districts and regions near you with races that could use your support:

Home

 

Visit the website of Emily’s List, which helps elect pro-choice Democratic women to office:

https://www.emilyslist.org

 

See OTYCD‘s past posts on picking House Reps and Senators to support in 2018, and on starting a 2018 fund:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2017/12/09/start-scouting-for-senators-who-you-can-donate-time-and-money-to-in-2018/

https://onethingyoucando.com/2017/12/09/think-about-which-house-reps-to-support-or-oppose-in-2018/

https://onethingyoucando.com/2017/12/09/start-a-2018-fund/

Candidates · Elections · Vote with your Dollars

Ready Your Wallet: The FEC Q4 Deadline Is In One Week

Headsup: The Federal Election Commission’s donation deadline for the fourth quarter of 2019 is in one week. 

 

If you have money to spare–and we realize the holidays can be tight, but deadlines are deadlines–now is the time to give to sitting Democratic members of Congress, Democrats who have declared their intent to run against Republicans in 2020, and Democratic candidates for president.

 

Fairly or not, quarterly fundraising numbers are considered a sign of a candidate’s strength. Giving money to a candidate or a Congressperson who’s up for re-election in 2020 before a quarterly FEC deadline is a way to cast a vote for that candidate with dollars instead of a ballot.

 

In addition to giving to members of your Congressional delegation who are up in 2020, you can donate to Democrats who are taking heat from Republicans on the regular, to show tangible support for them.

 

It’s equally wise to cast a “vote” for Congressional Democrats who are quietly getting things done but not drawing any media attention.

 

We’re putting this post up one week before the actual deadline, to give you time to sort out your finances and see what you can do. We’ll put up another reminder on the day, and we’ll keep doing quarterly reminders about FEC deadlines in perpetuity.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

Candidates · Elections · Vote with your Dollars

Headsup: The FEC Deadline for Q4 Is at the End of December

Headsup: The Federal Election Commission’s donation deadline for the fourth quarter of 2019 is at the end of the month. 

 

We’re giving you an extra, early headsup about the FEC Q4 deadline because it falls on December 31, 2019–a time of year when many of us have to plan extra-carefully, between buying gifts for the holidays and sorting out donations to other charities before the calendar year ends.

 

If you have money to spare, now is the time to give to sitting Democratic members of Congress, Democrats who have declared their intent to run against Republicans in 2020, and Democratic candidates for president.

 

Fairly or not, quarterly fundraising numbers are considered a sign of a candidate’s strength. Giving money to a candidate or a Congressperson who’s up for re-election in 2020 before a quarterly FEC deadline is a way to cast a vote for that candidate with dollars instead of a ballot.

 

In addition to giving to members of your Congressional delegation who are up in 2020, you can donate to Democrats who are taking heat from Republicans on the regular, to show tangible support for them.

 

It’s equally wise to cast a “vote” for Congressional Democrats who are quietly getting things done but not drawing any media attention.

 

We’re putting this post up one month before the actual deadline, to give you extra time to sort out your finances and see what you can do. We’ll put up another reminder one week ahead of the deadline as well as on the day, and we’ll keep doing quarterly reminders about FEC deadlines in perpetuity.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

Candidates · Elections · Vote with your Dollars

Ready Your Wallets: The FEC Q3 Deadline Is In One Week

Headsup: The Federal Election Commission’s donation deadline for the third quarter of 2019 is in one week. 

 

If you have money to spare, now is the time to give to sitting Democratic members of Congress, Democrats who have declared their intent to run against Republicans in 2020, and Democratic candidates for president.

 

Fairly or not, quarterly fundraising numbers are considered a sign of a candidate’s strength. Giving money to a candidate or a Congressperson who’s up for re-election in 2020 before a quarterly FEC deadline is a way to cast a vote for that candidate with dollars instead of a ballot.

 

In addition to giving to members of your Congressional delegation who are up in 2020, you can donate to Democrats who are taking heat from Republicans on the regular, to show tangible support for them.

 

It’s equally wise to cast a “vote” for Congressional Democrats who are quietly getting things done but not drawing any media attention.

 

We’re putting this post up one week before the actual deadline, to give you time to sort out your finances and see what you can do. We’ll put up another reminder on the day, and we’ll keep doing quarterly reminders about FEC deadlines in perpetuity.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

Action Alerts · Community Activism · Elections · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Learn to Evangelize (In a Good Way)

This OTYCD post originally appeared in February 2018. 

 

Learn, and practice, how to tell the story of the candidates you support, and become an evangelist for them.

 

One of the most important things you can do to push back against Trump is convince people to come out and vote against his democracy-destroying agenda. But if you really want to be effective, you want to immerse yourself in the merits and the story of a non-Trumpish candidate, fully master it, and be ready to make a powerful, personal, eloquent case for voting for them.

 

Now, a personal confession. Sarah Jane here. I’m the founder of the OTYCD blog and the lead wrangler of research and of its anonymous writers. This is my 2016 story.

 

So it’s late 2015 or so and the election is starting to gear up. I resign myself to voting for Clinton. I’m meh on her but I don’t think Bernie can do the job, the Republicans are all thoroughly horrible, and the third party options look miserable, too.

 

But at some point I see clips from that eleven-hour Congressional Benghazi hearing.

 

And I see Clinton own those Republican twerps like the boss she is. Own. Them. Completely and thoroughly. She cleans the floor with them till she can see her face in it, and she doesn’t even break a sweat. She slays. She dominates. She destroys. Through her actions and her attitude, she reveals the hearings for what they are–a formal, coordinated attempt to kneecap her 2016 presidential campaign–and she ain’t havin’ it. At all.

 

And I realized: She can do this, and she wants to do this. She is crazy-smart and ludicrously skilled, and she has a skin as thick as a rhino’s, and she actually wants to be president. She’s been through hell and back so many times, from so many different directions, she could write a guidebook on it for Lonely Planet. She has taken far more than her allotted ration of shit in this life. She has long since earned the right to walk in the woods and play with her grandkids. But she wants to do this. Damn. Whoa.

 

In that moment I became a Clinton convert. The scales fell from my eyes. I went from ‘meh’ to ‘yeah!’ I was *excited* to vote for her. Not as much as I was for Obama, but I was excited.

 

Now, here’s my sin: I didn’t tell anyone about my change of heart. At no point before the 2016 election did I speak up to anyone else and say why I was excited to vote for her.

 

I donated to her campaign. I voted for her in the primary. I stayed on top of the issues. I watched all three debates. I voted for her for president. But never did I ever sit with friends and family and spontaneously say why I was so jazzed to vote for Hillary Clinton.

 

I live in a state that went overwhelmingly for Clinton. I can tell myself that not speaking well of her once I started thinking well of her made no difference.

 

But c’mon. What if more of us had shown genuine enthusiasm for voting for her? What if more of us had evangelized for her?

 

What if our friends and family made note of that, and passed the word to others–that there are people out there, sane and fine people, who actually like Clinton and want to vote for her?

 

Don’t get me wrong–I realize she had a fine contingent of folks who did speak well of her, early and often, and I realize a goodly number of them read this blog. I’m wondering how things might be different if that contingent were bigger, and if folks who share my Clinton journey had stepped up and joined it.

 

The overriding perception was that those who cast votes for either major presidential candidate in 2016 did so while holding their noses.

 

Remember the ‘Giant Meteor 2016’ bumper stickers? Judging by the way the election was covered, no one would blame you for thinking it was a giant nationwide game of ‘Would You Rather?’

 

It wasn’t, or at least it wasn’t for me. I liked Clinton, and I still like her, and what she stands for. And I’ve gone from being irked to pissed to stabby about how the right wing noise machine has done its level best to smear her for 30 goddamn years.

 

It’s too late to do right by Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate. But you can devote yourself to becoming a better evangelist for non-Trumpish candidates running in special elections and in 2018 who will restore and defend our democracy. (“Non-Trumpish” candidates include Republicans and conservatives who have spines, btw.)

 

You don’t have to formally join their campaigns to be effective. Heck, you might be more effective if you don’t. Just do your damnedest to learn about them, and what they stand for, and figure out what it is about them that you connect with most, and tell others why.

 

You have power. You have friends and family who listen to you and value what you have to say. Hearing people you trust speak happily, and authentically, about a candidate for office helps that candidate’s chances of winning that office.

 

Speaking up is scary. Some people will challenge you, talk over you, even yell at you and try to shout you down. But you need to speak up anyway. It’s too important. Do not succumb to silence. Do what you have to do to learn how to speak up, and get good at it, and start working on it now, in summer 2017, well before the primaries.

 

We need you. We need every voice. Our democracy depends on it.

 

Update: Since I wrote this I realized (headsmack) that many of those who stuck up for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign got shouted down, and they’re still getting shouted down months later. I can only point back to my own experience.

 

I know most of my crowd was pro-Clinton, but no one expressed spontaneous enthusiasm for her. I don’t think I would have felt any pushback if I had voiced my enthusiasm in real life (online is of course another matter) but I can’t know because I did not think to try.

 

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