2020 Recruitment Messaging Memo
Progressive volunteers wanting to take action in electoral politics will have many options in 2020: beat Trump, beat GOP US Senators, protect US congressional seats, win gubernatorial races, win state legislative elections, among others. But they don’t have to choose. With Sister District, they can help to turn out voters in strategic states that will result in fair, once-in-a-decade redistricting, and will ripple all the way up the ballot.
Our job will be to (a) find, connect with, and sign up folks who already get the mission and just need to be plugged in; and (b) help more people understand the mission, see that state elections represent their highest ROI in 2020 given all the options for action, understand why this org presents a great volunteering option, and get them to join us!
It’s more important than ever to focus on building power—let’s bring all the creativity, hustle, and opportunistic thinking we can to recruiting new volunteers now and throughout the cycle. As always with recruiting, it comes down to connecting and communicating compelling ideas/invitations.
Here are some resources to mine for ideas:
- It’s Time to Care about State Legislatures. Good primer on why states matter.
- The Sister District Blog. Lots of additional materials on why states matter.
- 2020 Strategy
- All About Gerrymandering and Redistricting
- Sister District Resources tab
And here are a few additional ideas for crafting your recruitment messaging. If you have additional ideas on messaging, please let us know! This is intended to be a living document.
Working on state legislative races supports the presidential race.
Turning out voters to vote for candidates at the bottom of the ticket helps the entire ticket! This is the “trickle up” or “reverse coattails” idea—the same voters who vote for Democrats downballot will also vote for Democrats at the top of the ticket. By supporting state leg, it doesn’t mean you’re NOT working on the presidential.
Best ROI in electoral political volunteering. The bang for your volunteering buck—or your actual buck —is so much bigger helping state legislative candidates versus, say, a presidential candidate. $200 is a drop in the bucket to a presidential candidate, but it could mean the difference between winning and losing in a small state leg race that depends on every door knock and dial.
To fight gerrymandering, we have to win state legislatures.
The President is elected for 4 years, but redistricting lasts for 10 years. This is our last chance to make an impact: redistricting in 2021 locks in electoral maps in 34 states for a full decade.
To win progressive policies, we have to win state legislatures.
- Pick an issue of concern and use that to talk to potential volunteers. State legislators make the laws that actually impact people’s lives, and in that way, they often have more power over a particular issue than a Congressperson, a Senator, or even the President.
- With Kavanaugh’s appointment, we can no longer count on the Supreme Court has a backstop for regressive Republican policies. We have to turn to the states. These state legislators and the progressive laws they will pass are the best defense against harmful policy that will come down from the federal level.
To build a progressive bench of leaders—you guessed it—we have to win state legislatures.
- We’re helping promising leaders advance to higher and higher office
- Half of United States Presidents had once been state legislators
Sister District’s strategy is clear and focused. We have been laser-focused on our mission from the beginning. Our lane stays the same, we get clear direction, we know what we can and should be doing each step of the way. This makes the volunteering experience easy and straightforward instead of messy and uncertain.
The people are great! Sister District has some of the most passionate, friendliest, and most rockstar volunteers in its ranks.
Maintain a balanced political diet. Most folks will want to spread their volunteering energy and financial contributions around a little bit. Help them be strategic about the choices they make.
Right-sized. We’re small enough such that you get to know other leaders and there’s a family feeling and you can get staff on the phone any time. But we’re big enough to do real damage!
We’ve made a big impact so far!
Have a look at our 2019 Impact Report
2019 Impact example: VA
Sister District volunteers helped flip both state houses, creating a blue trifecta in Virginia, ensuring that Democrats will draw the next decade of electoral maps in the state. Democrats elected the first African-American woman leader of the state senate (!) and got to work enacting progressive policy to help all Virginians. The legislature:
- Ratified the Equal Rights Amendment
- Raised the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2026
- Mandated that the electric grid be carbon-free by midcentury
- Passed seven bills to improve gun safety
- Passed the first LGBTQ nondiscrimination bill in the South
- Rolled back abortion restrictions like mandatory ultrasounds and the 24-hour waiting period
- Let local governments remove Confederate statues
- Granted legal driving privileges to undocumented immigrants
- Capped insulin at $50 per month
For more, read this article.
Increasing our impact in 2019
Our volunteers raised $735,380 directly to candidates in LA, MS, and VA, made 204,326 phone calls (28% more than last year!), sent 201,202 postcards, knocked 19,324 doors, and sent 229,687 texts. And we almost doubled our per-candidate average for dollars and dials from last year.
Stories from 2019
In 2017, Sister District supported Shelly Simonds in her bid for House of Delegates. She tied, ultimately losing when her opponent’s name was drawn from a ceramic bowl. On Election Night, Shelly was our first candidate to declare victory. Sister District volunteers made well over half of Shelly’s phone calls, sent 100% of her texts, and raised $83,000, which was 6% of her total raise.
Josh Cole also ran in 2017 and lost by 82 votes. We supported him this year knowing it was going to be a difficult race in a Trump district. Sister District volunteers raised $82,500, which was 7% of his total raise, made over half of his phone calls, and sent over a third of his postcards. On Election Night, in another close race, he became the first Black person, and the youngest ever person, elected to this seat. See more: 2019 Impact Report.
2018 Impact example: CO
In 2018 we helped flip the CO Senate, which created a blue trifecta in the state. CO legislators went on to have a historic 2019 session, passing bills banning conversion therapy, ensuring equal pay for equal work, providing universal state-funded all-day kindergarten and so much more. See more: 2018 Impact Report.