We build enduring progressive power in state legislatures to improve people’s lives.
We fill critical gaps at every point in the political life cycle.
Provide turnkey field, fundraising, and strategic support to the highest value state legislative races in key states.
Engage out-of-district volunteers to take the most impactful actions, and fund year-round power-building, prioritizing partnerships with organizations led by people of color on the ground.
Equip today and tomorrow’s leaders with the skills and networks they need to create progressive policy in their communities.
Advance cutting-edge voter and volunteer engagement tactics through research, training, and civic education about the importance of state legislatures.
Our electoral strategy is a cornerstone of our organization’s overall strategy to build enduring progressive power in state legislatures. Our electoral strategy involves building power in three types of state legislative chambers: Blue Flips, Blue Holds, and Blue Inroads.
Chambers where Democrats can flip the chamber in one cycle
Chambers where Democrats have a fragile majority, which we must defend and expand
Chambers where Democrats must build power for future chamber flips
In any given year, the mix of chambers and seats in these three categories changes, due to the schedule of state elections, which differs year to year; the composition of chambers, which shift after each election cycle; and the urgency of other key races and broader electoral opportunities that exist in each state.
Due to the volume of races, we typically cannot endorse candidates in every state holding elections. Instead, we prioritize endorsing where we can build momentum at the bottom of the ticket to decrease roll-off in naturally higher turnout environments with strategic higher-ticket Democratic opportunities.
Virginia: Protect and expand the Democratic House majority.
Special Elections: Endorse in strategically valuable special state legislative elections when possible.
Target States: AZ, FL, GA, MI, NC, NH, PA, TX, WI, MN, CO, NV
Nested Opportunities: Prioritize states with nested competitive Senate, House, and Gubernatorial elections.
Redistricting Commissions: Prioritize states with redistricting commissions, where we expect new maps to be fairer for Democrats.
Incumbent Protection: Invest in fragile incumbents. Incumbent protection has always been a key component of our electoral strategy. We can expect many state legislative Democratic incumbents to face reelection challenges under new maps in Republican-controlled states. We must not lose our hard-won gains.
The beauty of American federalism is that chaos at the federal level does not preclude advancements within the states. In fact, state legislatures are usually the first places we can look for groundbreaking policy that may later grow to national prominence. That’s why Sister District focuses exclusively on state legislatures, and why we continue to see returns on our investments years down the line.
Our programs implement our strategy by filling critical gaps in the progressive infrastructure. Together, these programs empower volunteers, candidates, legislators, and the public with maximum opportunities for engagement and impact.
We harness the abundance of volunteer and donor energy that exists all across the country and direct it to our carefully selected races. We activate, train, and collaborate with our volunteer-led teams and affiliates to deliver outsized support to candidates in the forms they need it most: fundraising, phone calls, door knocks, postcards, and texts. In 2021, this includes raising early money earmarked for delivering early money support to candidates in our 2022 states. Learn more about our impact in 2020!
We offer personalized assistance and resources to candidates throughout the campaign cycle. This includes direct access to our campaign veteran staff for questions, a comprehensive campaign-in-a-box library with templates and best practices, as well as advice and strategic counseling on campaign plan and budget development, paid communications, and more.
Our Organizing Fellows support our volunteer-led teams by recruiting and retaining volunteers for candidate support events, all while gaining practical skills to help them build careers as organizers. Our Campus Fellows are trained in building and running phonebanks to boost support to candidates. Check out our student opportunities!
We generate top caliber research and data-driven analysis, which enables us to target the highest-impact races with exceptional candidates.
Our State Bridges program activates volunteers across the country to fundraise for organizations doing year-round power-building work in key states. Building on the successes in Arizona and Georgia in 2020, we know that long-term community-based organizing, often led by people of color, is bedrock for our ability to build progressive power in state legislatures. We will continue to roll out State Bridges partners and events throughout 2021.
The annual Sister District Summit is an opportunity for volunteers from across the country to debrief on the previous year, learn from each other, and plan for the year ahead. Learn more!
Winning office is just the beginning. We know that legislators from purple districts face challenges and experiences in governing and campaigning that are distinct from their blue district colleagues. Our Purple District Network is the only state legislator network exclusively focused on providing support to state legislators located in purple districts.
Using a cohort model, the Network builds community among purple district legislators in order to share best practices, governance techniques, and strategies for being effective. Legislators in the network have access to campaign and governance resources, and connect with each other through a shared database, remote convenings with their cohorts, and an annual summit.
Sometimes, even the most exceptional candidates lose their races. While losses are often down payments on future successes, far too many future winners fall out of the talent pipeline at this step because there is no one to support them. Using a cohort model, we deliver training and coaching on advanced topics of fundraising and communications, and guidance on preparing for their next race, all within the context of a supportive community of candidates in a similar position to build connection and accountability. Learn more about our Future Winners program!
Our award-winning research team conducts academic-quality experiments and analyses to develop and disseminate best practices in the areas of voter and volunteer engagement. This work ensures we are utilizing the highest impact tactics in our work. We also perform qualitative and narrative research to investigate how non-experimental factors like race and gender may impact electoral outcomes. Our results are always proudly free and open to the public. Read our research results now!
In our popular Book Club and Fireside Chat series, we read books and hold conversations with authors and experts to deepen our engagement with issues around voting rights, the importance of states, redistricting, social and racial justice, civic participation, and more. Check out the Book Club!
State legislatures matter. They are the engine that moves our democracy forward. They have the power to transform their states, and in doing so, lead the way for the entire country.