State of the State: Our GOTV Strategy
Arizona’s recent promising shift towards Democrats only seems to be increasing! Pundits say this is driven by the fact that Arizona is now a COVID-19 hot spot as well as the site of wide protests after state troopers shot a black man asleep in his car on the highway. This shift is remarkable. Other than Bill Clinton’s 1996 win, the state has voted GOP for president since 1952. However, as of late July, fully 71% disapprove of the job Republican Governor Doug Ducey is doing with COVID-19. This number is echoed in polling around strong disapproval of Donald Trump.
This is an encouraging echo of 2018, when moderate suburban voters and young Latinos together brought in a Democratic Senator in 2018 for the first time in thirty years. The Senate seat up this year has similarly encouraging numbers for the Democrat. Arizonans are registering to vote in high numbers, particularly young Latinos—24% of the state’s electorate—who are angered by Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. This is still a swing state, not a slam dunk, and AZ has a history of hard-core conservativism, particularly on immigration issues. After all, that’s where “papers, please” started. But numbers show that Arizonans increasingly are calling and mobilizing for real change. WNDC can be part of flipping AZ!
Check back as we update this information.
Numbers are great in Colorado! As of late July, former Vice President Biden is polling double digits ahead of Trump and Senate candidate John Hickenlooper is similarly outpacing GOP incumbent Cory Gardner. Colorado’s been trending Democratic for the past several cycles, starting with giving its electoral votes to Obama in 2008. What’s more, Democratic voter registration is now higher than GOP registration for the first time in years. Voters are highly disapproving of Trump’s coronavirus response, and largely supportive of stay-at-home orders.
Though numbers are so good that many pundits are suggesting Colorado can be safely tucked in the Democratic column, both Biden and Trump campaigns say they plan to fight hard. Trump has had an operation there for over a year and recently boasted of contacting its 2 millionth CO voter contact. That doesn’t seem to have translated into much of a polling bump for the GOP…and Democrats are just getting started! Help WNDC help Colorado keep its Blue momentum!
US SENATE CANDIDATE JOHN HICKENLOOPER
Crucial to Democratic hopes for taking back the Senate, the race is looking good in Colorado. GOP incumbent Cory Gardner is trailing significantly in the polls, and seems to have little to fall back on. He was elected in 2014, which was a GOP wave. It was also the last time a Republican won a statewide election in Colorado. Democrats are tying Gardner to Trump, and can cite a long list of Gardner’s pro-Trump votes—difficult for Gardner when Trump’s own CO polling is bad-getting-worse.
John Hickenlooper, by contrast, is deeply trusted by many as a former two-term governor of Colorado. Many see him as a real guy, not a politician, and one who served Colorado well. Pollsters note that in the same year Gardner won his Senate seat and Hickenlooper was being re-elected as governor, Hickenlooper won his seat with two percentage points more than Gardner won his—an intriguing and encouraging comparison.
Georgia’s in play—but it needs our help! Two Senate seats are up. One is rated as having good potential for Democrats to flip (see write up on Jon Ossoff). The other is an unusual open contestation with three Democrats and two Republicans, in which there will be a runoff if no one gets 50% of the vote on November 3.
Stacey Abrams made a strong showing in 2018, when gun control advocate Lucy McBath flipped a traditionally red Congressional seat. Vice President Biden continues to make inroads against Trump. Is this the year Georgia turns blue? Let’s make it so, as its 16 electoral votes are significant.
There are challenges. Massive voter suppression in Georgia in 2018 is now creating worries particularly among Black voters that their votes won’t be counted. The GOP has a history of closing polls in Democratic areas and purging voter rolls. What’s more, parts of GA are experiencing heavy health and economic consequences of COVID-19. Reaching low-income, low-propensity voters is difficult but important, and WNDC is teaming up particularly with Reclaim Our Vote to inform and mobilize these communities.
The good news is that, while Stacey Abrams lost her 2018 Senate bid by 55,000 votes (often attributed to voter suppression), more than 700,000 Georgians have since registered to vote—and that number increases by about 1250 each day. It’s a young and diverse crowd which Democrats expect to vote blue—similar to demographic changes in many southern states. Democratic voter turnout was exceptionally high for the primaries…leading to Blue dreams for November.
US SENATE CANDIDATE JON OSSOFF
33-year-old Jon Ossoff runs an investigative journalism TV production company. He is a strong supporter of major liberal issues such as clean energy and health insurance for all. He had the strong support of the late US Representative John Lewis and continues to be supported by a number of major environmental and other organizations. He ran for 6th district congressional district in 2017 and lost to the Republican by 3.6% of the vote. Ossoff speaks very directly on issues, with phrases such as ”health is a human right” and “Amazon provides a great service [$3.6 billion in Georgia] but its corporate behavior is unethical.”
Jon’s main problem may well be name recognition, which is where support of organizations such as WNDC is crucial. Recent research found that only 65% recognize his name compared to 85% for David Perdue, the GOP incumbent.
Perdue is the incumbent senior senator since 2015. He serves on a number of important Senate committees, which Georgians will like, but is a strong supporter of President Trump, which increasingly Georgians do not like. Some pollsters call it a close election with Perdue slightly ahead…but that’s where we come in!
We can make a difference in Maine!
Maine is considered a swing state, as Clinton won three of its four electoral votes there in 2016 – but the state hadn’t gone Democratic since 1988. Gary Johnson, the Independent candidate in 2016, won 5 % of the vote at that time, some arguing it took from Clinton who won by only a very narrow margin of 2.9%. Perhaps indicating a hopeful trend, Democrat Janet Mills won the governorship in 2018.
Maine is a state outside the norm, with a population 95% White. It also is complicated. It has a 12% poverty rate while at the same is the first in the country for owners of second homes—a tax issue that affects voting. COVID-19 and economic trouble are impacting Maine in ways that are still unfolding in terms of voting patterns. Non-farm jobs decreased in 2020 by 8.0%, but were beginning to rebound in May primarily because of reopening of businesses and the Paycheck Protection Program. COVID-19 is beginning to climb again in Maine this summer. Elsewhere in the country, these dynamics have led to voters looking for a change in leadership. We’ll keep our eye on how they unfold in Maine—and even nudge them. With WNDC’s work, we can continue Maine’s recent trend to Dem!
US SENATE CANDIDATE SARA GIDEON
The race is on in Maine for the Senate, where Sara Gideon is challenging GOP incumbent Susan Collins, along with a host of Independent candidates. Collins has been in the Senate since 1997 and had a reputation as a moderate, until she voted to confirm Justice Kavanaugh. With this vote, she disappointed many and turned herself into a Democratic target in 2020. She’s seen as increasingly out of touch with Maine, and her disapproval ratings have skyrocketed.
Gideon, in contrast, is a well-regarded Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and handily won her primary. She has a large fundraising advantage over Collins and has been playing up Collins’ Supreme Court vote, casting it in light of all the important cases that have and will come to the Court. As of July, this was rated as a toss-up race by almost all pollsters, although some are starting to see it leaning Dem.
Excitement abounds in North Carolina—great as Democrats see it as crucial to their bid to capture the Senate majority in November. Outside groups from both parties have poured millions of dollars into the state in anticipation of a brutal fall campaign season. Most polls have put Biden at least three points ahead of Trump since mid-April, sometimes as many as seven points.
Other regional factors may have a positive impact on North Carolina’s Blue prospects. Amy McGrath’s strong poll numbers in nearby Kentucky might make the GOP pull funds from North Carolina to redirect in order to support Mitch McConnell. This can only help Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham.
Significantly, there are signs that the very red state may be turning against Trump. The Trump-blessed incumbent was beaten in the GOP House primary, which does not bode well for GOP turnout hopes in November. On the other hand, NC Dems saw a huge increase in turnout in the 2018 midterms. Pundits say the GOP has largely maximized its base turnout. But as the state turns more urban and experiences increases in numbers of people of color, Dems still have many new pools of voters to tap into—and a plan to do so!
US SENATE CANDIDATE CAL CUNNINGHAM
Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham is a former state legislator and Iraq war vet. He’s a centrist, having fought off a progressive in his primary. He comes to this race focusing on health care, key in NC. He contrasts starkly with GOP incumbent Thom Tillis, who has voted with Trump 93.3% of the time. This includes votes against abortion rights, in favor of gun rights, and to repeal the ACA. Cunningham has been growing his vote share. A June CNBC/Change Research showed Cunningham with 51% support in the state, with Tillis at 41%.
Is Texas turning blue before our eyes?!
For decades Texas has been considered a Republican stronghold in the Presidential or US Senate races; however, wins by numerous Democratic House candidates in 2018 plus recent polling showing fallout with Republican voters over both Trump’s and Governor Abbot’s poor handling of COVID-19 have changed that calculation. In 2016 Clinton lost by nine points here, but in 2018, Beto O’Rourke lost to Ted Cruz by a mere three points. Changing demographics and college-educated suburbanites have made this turnaround possible. In mid-July, Biden released his first campaign ad targeted at these voters. Recent polling has shown Biden and Trump currently in a dead heat.
The dangerous challenge is ongoing efforts by Republicans to suppress Democratic votes, attributed to years of gerrymandering and recent wins in the state legislature and court battles, whose rulings have delivered a huge blow to voting rights. Some good news, however: Both the July 14th runoff and the previous Super Tuesday primary brought out a record number of voters, even though 100’s of polling stations had been closed. Also, the number of voter protection organizations to level the playing field in this state has increased to ensure as few people as possible are disenfranchised. WNDC is supporting these efforts in a partnership with Reclaim Our Vote. Help us help ALL Americans to vote, and vote for change!
US SENATE CANDIDATE MJ HEGAR
Air Force combat veteran MJ Hegar easily won her July 14th runoff race to challenge Republican incumbent Jon Cornyn for the US Senate seat. She narrowly lost the House race two years ago against incumbent Republican John Carter. We all remember the ad she ran then, entitled “Doors.” It went viral almost overnight, with good reason. View video here.
Cornyn spent money on ads encouraging voters to go all out for her Democratic primary challenger state Senator Royce West, so he clearly deems her to be a formidable candidate that he didn’t want to face in November. Cook Political Report still rates this race as “Likely Republican,” and Gonzales Inside Elections as “Leans Republican,” but Cornyn’s tight hold on Trump’s coat tails could soon prove to be a liability. There’s also reason to believe that this race will most assuredly require Republicans to spend a lot of money in this state, thereby potentially shortchanging resources in other state races.
It’s also believed that her campaign war chest will receive a healthy injection after her primary win, much-needed resources in an expensive media market state. Though as a rescue helicopter pilot, winning a Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross for her valor, Cornyn is labeling her “Hollywood Hegar,” or scary “Elizabeth Warren on a motorcycle.” Hegar has fired back, calling this tired, weak three-term incumbent what he is: “a lackey and spineless bootlicker for Trump.”