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January 9, 2020
Analyzing the 2019 Sister District Impact Report

Today, Sister District is proud to release our 2019 SDP Impact Report. The report includes details about our fundraising and field achievements, program growth, campaign success and satisfaction, and volunteer/team success and growth. Read on for some of the takeaways from the report.

2019: A Great Year for Sister District

Sister District endorsed 27 races in 2019. 17 candidates were supported by volunteer teams and affiliates with full field and fundraising efforts, and ten alumni running for re-election were supported with fundraising only.

Our fundraising and field programs (phonebanking, canvassing, postcarding, and textbanking) were executed by the dedicated efforts of Sister District’s 102 amazing volunteer teams and affiliates across the nation. Our collective efforts helped 88.24% of our Sister Races outperform the last Democrat who ran in their district, flipped both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, and unseated a Mississippi Republican who had been in office since our winning candidate was seven years old.

Quick Takes

  • Volunteers put in the time. In total, Sister District volunteers donated more than 31,340 hours of their time supporting Sister District candidates by making calls, sending texts, writing postcards, and knocking on doors.
  • Fundraising was sky high. Sister District raised $739,163 directly for official Sister Race and alumni candidates, a tremendous sum in an odd-year election.
  • We continued to support diverse candidates. Almost 2/3rds of 2019 fundraising went to women candidates, and over 1/3rd of 2019 fundraising went to candidates of color.
  • We continued to support close races. 68.45% of fundraising, 74.41% of phone banking support, and 68.01% of canvassing support went to races decided by less than 5%.

 

Official Sister District Races

Canvassing – In 2019, most of our volunteers lived far from our target states, so it’s incredibly impressive that so many volunteers traveled to canvass, especially in Virginia! Sister District volunteers knocked on 17,310 doors, representing approximately 962 hours of time, almost entirely during the “get out the vote” (GOTV) period.

Phonebanking – Sister Districters made 208,518 phone calls to voters on behalf of the 2019 Sister Race candidates, contributing approximately 8,341 volunteer hours.Those volunteer efforts represent an increase of 30.2% in calls over 2018, which was a more high-profile midterm election year where Sister District supported eight more candidates.

Postcarding – Sister Districters kept the postcard train rolling and sent 201,202 postcards during the 2019 election. This represents approximately 20,120 volunteer hours. This marks an increase of 55.07% in the average amount of postcard support given to candidates in 2019 over 2018 (up to 16,940 postcards per candidate in 2019, from 10,924 in 2018).

Textbanking – As we know from last year, Sister District volunteers are bonafied super texters! Sister District volunteers sent a whopping 287,976 text messages this year, representing approximately 1,920 volunteer hours. This represents a 3.31% increase in the number of text messages sent in 2018, and a 6.14% increase in average text messages sent per candidate compared to 2018.

Compared to 2017, textbanking support has increased 58.23%, demonstrating just how much Sister District has grown since our first year.

Fundraising – At the state legislative level, every dollar counts. In 2019, Sister District volunteers raised a whopping $739,163. Because we endorsed fewer candidates in ‘19 than in ‘18, this meant that the average amount raised per Sister Race increased dramatically, going from $29,277.70 in 2018 to $41,728.68 in 2019. This represented a 42.53% increase in average fundraising per candidate from 2018.

Our contributions accounted for especially large portions of Deep South candidate fundraising, with Sister District volunteers contributing an average of 34.34% of funds raised by our Mississippi candidates and 14.72% of the funds raised by our Louisiana candidate. At the same time, contributions to full Sister Race candidates in Virginia accounted for an average of 3.58% of the money raised by candidates, underscoring just how expensive campaigning in Virginia can be.

Electoral Success and Impact

Sister District provided support to 12 more candidates than we supported in 2017 (15 vs 27), and supported almost as many full Sister Race and alumni candidates as we did in 2018 (28 in 2018 and 27 in 2019) even though far fewer states were holding state legislative elections.

Many of our candidates won, and in addition, we closed important gaps and laid the groundwork for future Democrats to succeed.

Demographics

One of Sister District’s main functions is to help increase the representation of underrepresented groups in our state elected bodies, including but not limited to women and people of color. Of the 2019 Sister Race candidates:

  • 11 were women (64.71%)
  • 7 were people of color (41.18%)
  • 6 were running for a state legislative office for the first time (35.29%)
  • 6 were under 40 years of age (35.29%)

 

Election Outcomes

Out of the 2019 Sister Races…

  • 9 candidates won their races (52.94%)
  • 10 were decided by less than 5% (58.82%)
  • 88.24% of the candidates outperformed the last Democrat who ran in an election in their district.

 

2019 Sister Race candidate satisfaction

We surveyed our candidates and found that they are extremely satisfied with the fundraising and field support they get from Sister District.

  • The value of SDP fundraising compared with other national groups’ fundraising was rated an average of 9.4/10
  • The value of SDP field support compared with other national groups’ field support was rated an average of 9.0/10
  • Satisfaction with SDP volunteers was rated 9.9/10

As with last year, our candidates’ comments show immense gratitude and appreciation for Sister District’s support and partnership. We have included a selection of some of their comments in the full 2019 Impact Report.

Volunteer Statistics

Sister District’s main organizing goals in 2019 were to develop the infrastructure of existing teams, and to grow new teams and affiliates. We were thrilled to meet both goals. We started 27 new teams and affiliates across the country. We also added 95 volunteer leaders, indicating our existing teams are developing their infrastructure and becoming even more stable. Our list of actively subscribed members increased by 3,107 members, most of whom were added to existing teams.

Volunteers at a glance

  • There are 103 total teams/affiliates across the US
  • 48.96% of volunteer are between the ages of 40 and 64 and 25.42% of volunteers are between the ages of 23-39
  • 80.60% identify as women
  • Come from all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.

 

Team satisfaction

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Sister District organization, so we always seek the feedback of our volunteer leaders to help us improve our processes and the volunteer experience. We found that team satisfaction went up on every metric compared to 2018!

Teams were highly satisfied with…

  • …the candidates they worked with this cycle (9.5/10)
  • …the work they did this cycle, even when candidate didn’t win (8.9/10)

They also felt like…

  • …their teams helped move the needle in critical state races (9.0/10)
  • …their teams are energized to continue working with Sister District in 2020 (8.9/10)
  • …their teams feel that Sister District has helped to deepen their commitment to civic engagement (9.2/10)

Sister District Action Network (SDAN)

In 2019, the research program at Sister District Action Network (SDAN), the 501c(4) arm of Sister District Project, took off like a rocket. We conducted 28.57% more studies in 2019 than in 2018 (9 studies and 7 studies respectively) and reported the results of a whopping 700% more studies in 2019 than in 2018 (8 studies and 1 study respectively). Our research is adding significant value in the areas of voter and volunteer engagement. In December, we were thrilled that our SDAN work was given an Expy Award by the Analyst Institute, the country’s premier progressive research organization.

Our Work Has a Measurable Impact

In just two short state legislative election cycles, Virginia’s legislature has flipped from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority, and that every state we worked in in the Deep South saw an increase in voter turnout compared to the previous election. Folks are fired up, they are donating, they are volunteering, and, importantly, they are voting.

Our strides in Virginia, and Shanda Yates’ win in Mississippi—unseating a house member who had been serving for decades—demonstrate how important our efforts are. The mission of Sister District is as critical as it was when we founded the organization in late 2016, even more so as we see rights chipped away at the national level under the current administration.

We know we can say Sister District left it all on the table in 2019, thanks to an amazing group of volunteers, and those efforts had a significant impact on these races and the nation. Let’s carry these successes forward into 2020 and work together to flip chambers blue across the country!