Do Something!

People deal with traumatic events in various ways, and the Trumpocalypse is no exception. Some get stuck on sadness, others on anger. But my sense is that more of us are taking steps to oppose the incoming administration than is generally acknowledged, and that’s a good thing. (I get this impression not just from reading comments here but from observing my real-life circle, which includes non-activists who are suddenly very much activists.)

Valued commenter StringOnAStick wanted to do something constructive. Here’s her account of her post-election journey, some independent activism she engaged in, and how she chose OFA as a vehicle for activism going forward:

Once I started to exit my funk over this election, I realized the only way I was going to get through this was by getting active, and trying to get others to do so too. First I started by putting together easy action emails for friends with all the work done like “here are some letters, here are the addresses, here’s your rep’s phone number so call about this issue”, etc. Kay has been the source for many of my group emails, like her wonderful idea that what we need in the rustbelt/voter suppression states is paid locals on the ground, organizing, getting people registered to vote by helping them through the hoops, not just parachuting in every 4 years for a presidential election then blowing town. That became a letter action for my friends to mail to the DNC, DCCC, DSCC, and whoever else they wanted to send it to. I started feeling that while doing this was something and made me feel better, it wasn’t going to be enough so I started looking around for what group was well organized enough to deserve my time and already had trained people with plans and ideas. I went to an OFA meeting last night to see if this was the group I wanted to be involved with. OFA, formerly Organizing for Action, now Organizing for America, fits the bill, IMO, and the fact that President Obama has said he will be all over this once he is a private citizen means OFA will have a huge and popular presence at the top.

Last night in the Denver area, about 120 people met to listen to the main OFA organizer in this area. She was well organized (duh!) with a timed agenda and speakers so that this would be a well run meeting, and not devolve into hours of kvetching, so my time was not wasted. We heard from various individuals who had put together events such as climate change conferences, a woman with a teachable specialty in writing letters to the editor (newspapers still have more readers than your FB feed, honest), a discussion of gentrification issues here in Denver, how to set up a phone bank; all were people who had received some training from OFA, and these were the directions they went with it. It gave me hope and stiffened my spine, something we all need these days. I will soon be receiving an email summary of what was discussed last night and whom to contact for various subgroups within the group that I will choose to work more deeply with. Like I said, they didn’t waste my time, and they have direction with trained leaders at all levels, plus opportunities to receive training.

I see OFA as our most organized vehicle to push back against the Drumpf agenda because these wheels have already been invented; we don’t have to invent them again. To those who say “oh yeah, well why wasn’t OFA registering voters?” the reality is that since it is a group directly attached to the sitting president, they could not legally do that. This all changes come January 20th, and President Obama made it clear to the people on the phone call to OFA organizers 2 weeks ago that voting rights are going to his post-presidential project; I have no doubt that he’ll have other areas of activity as well through OFA. Considering how much fuss was raised at the idea of an activist ex-President on FOX and Twitter today, I’d say that idea has the right in a bit of a snit. Good; I like it when they snit, it means we are getting to them. President Obama has amazing approval ratings, commands attention and respect, and he is OFA’s secret weapon, so why wouldn’t we want to hitch our wagon to an already organized and operating group? Go to www.BarackObama.com, click on “Connect” in the upper right hand corner and create an account, then start looking for events and issues you feel strongly about on the “Explore” tab after you hit “Connect.” Most states have at least one group, so you can drill down to your local area, join the group by clicking on it, and then you’ll get the emails about what your group is planning and what is coming up.

I know, joining a group is scary because they might want you to, horrors! do something. How hard is it to write a letter to the editor or your congressman? Not that hard; I learned last night that rule #1 for getting your letter published is for it to be under 150 words; good to know. By not engaging in LTTE campaigns, we’ve ceded the whole newspaper space to the crazies; fight back! In general though, the next 4 years are going to be an All Hands on Deck time, and we all need to get organized with others who share our goals, and RESIST what is coming. I’ve made my commitment, and I deeply, sincerely hope the rest of us will too.

Democrats seem divided between those who believe the Trump administration will be a particularly bad Republican presidency but one that our institutions are strong enough to absorb and bounce back from and those who view it as an existential threat to our democracy. Whichever camp you’re in, action will be required to oppose the shitgibbon.

If you’re doing something to resist, feel free to share your experience in comments. Otherwise, open thread!



Keep fighting, never give up

Whatever the final tally is tonight, we’ll get through this.



The value of a ground game

4Chan, Reddit and large rallies are good at building group solidarity and raising money as well as a mob.  So far they are not a substitute for a boring, grind it out ground game.

North Carolina has some interesting data on early voting:

 

Registered Democrats continue to lead in the accepted ballots numbers, and are over-performing their 2012 same-day comparison numbers, at 129 percent of where they were in accepted ballots on the same day from four years ago. Registered unaffiliated voters are 128 percent of their same-day accepted ballots, and registered Republicans are 66 percent of where they were four years ago on the same day. Overall, the total returned and accepted mail-in ballots are at 96 percent of where they were on the same day in 2012.

Registered Democrats are running about 30% higher than they did in 2012.  Registered Republicans are running about 30% lower.  If we were seeing equivalent ground games, the Republicans are missing one vote for every vote that has been returned.

Time to keep on grinding away as a superior GOTV organization is worth a point or two in.  And if you are in a non-swingable state, work down ballot as this data suggests that the downballot Republicans in North Carolina are not hitting their early voting marks either.

Update 1: A very good friend of the blog argued via e-mail that the independent/non-affiliated surge is very likely to be embarrassed Republicans and thus there is not a Democratic advantage.  I can see that to some degree.  However if we assume that every vote above last cycle’s non-affiliated vote is effectively an embarrassed Republican vote the combined Republican vote would be about 3% more than the current Democratic registered vote or in horse race turns the Republican adjust lead is 51% to 48% for the adjusted two party vote.  In 2012 backing out the incremental embarrassed Republican vote, the Republicans had 58% to 42% two party vote edge.

 



GOTV optimization

This evening, my wife and I were door knocked for the first time this election cycle. A very earnest paid canvasser from a union backed entity asked us half a dozen questions, got our contact information and engaged in small chit chat. He stayed on our porch for ten minutes as a nasty but brief squall ripped through the neighborhood and took down a pair of branches from the walnut tree across the street. As we were talking, I mentioned that I had been a data geek for a similar 527 organization a while back. I understood that this was an initial data canvas and not a mobilization nor a persuasion canvas. Neither my wife nor I need persuasion nor mobilization. We have not missed an election in ten years, and the latest either of us have voted is three hours and seventeen minutes after the polls opened (this year as I was working from home and had to get the kids to school and coffee in me before casting a ballot for Hillary Clinton).

Any resources devoted to either persuade or mobilize my wife or I are wasted resources. We’re going to vote, and we’re going to vote for the most plausibly electable liberal that we can whenever we can. And this is a problem that calls for a solution. We’re going to get hit up with at least four different liberal GOTV ground campaigns (Clinton, joint/coordinated Federal and State Dem victory campaign, an environmental organization and a union backed 527 that we just talked to). Each of these groups will call us, they will mail us, and they will door knock us. If we only answer ten canvassers at the door this fall, I will be surprised. All of that effort is wasted effort that should be deployed on either getting a sure liberal but unsure voter out to vote, or a sure voter but squishy persuasion target out to vote for Democrats.

Is there a solution where my wife and I can register with a data vendor to say that we are 100% sure of voting and we are non-persuadable in the general election cycle so send resources three doors down to the new couple that moved into the neighborhood from out of state and have just registered to vote for the first time? If that is a third party entity, then both the campaigns that are allowed to coordinate with candidates and independent entities can buy the same cleansing lists to clean and narrow their actual target universe.



You’ll come running back

I don’t understand why it’s vital that Bernie get out of the race and endorse Hillary immediately. I do understand why he needs to do this before the convention. But I don’t understand why it has to happen soon.

It sounds like Hillary can expect about a 5 point, give or take, bounce from bringing the Bernie voters home, and I’m confident she’ll get this sooner or later. In the meantime, isn’t it just as well that she has only a 4-6 point lead in polls instead of a 9-11 point lead, given that a double digit lead might convince Republicans to do the smart thing and find a way to dump Trump?

Every day that Republicans think Trump is in it to win it and go around idiotically tying their fates to his is a good day for Democrats. If Trump were way down in the polls, this wouldn’t be happening the way that it is right now.

And eventually Bernie will do the right thing. In the meantime, we need to just chill them liberals out and wait for the cavalry, which should be coming directly.



In fact, it was a little bit frightening

This is a bit Captain Obvious but, yeah, we can expect a lot of Rasmussen polls where Trump and Hill are neck and neck, and a lot of Chuck Todd pieces about how the key Edible Arrangements moms or liquor store uncle or whatever demographic is shifting towards Trump:

 

Reporters will get bored writing Trump-is-going-to-lose-big stories. Some will want the race to tighten. They’ll look for angles to promote the idea. You can see some of that taking shape already. The media took approving notice when experienced political operatives supplanted Trump’s posse of fanboys, who’d been running things until recently. With a change of personnel has come a little more maturity and message discipline—or what passes for discipline in a willful, insecure, ungovernable personality like Trump’s.

I got very scared during the Sandra Day O’Palin portion of the 2008 election, which fortunately only lasted about two weeks. And I expect to get a little scared during this general election too.



If The Phone Don’t Ring…

Hey everyone!

I’ve got a message for you:

Pick up the damn phone.

The backstory:  I heard last night from a valued reader with connections to the Hill reminded me that there is more this crowd can do than point, sigh, and mock the GOP pants-wetters (abetted by an increasing number of feckless Dems) who so fear the widows and orphans from the latest spasm of our long decade of war in the Middle East.*

Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_052

What to do about the attempt to make fear the ground state of American policy?  What to do about the spreading political meme that the proper exercise of US state power is to bar the door to Syrian refugees? How should we stand with President Obama when he says of the fear mongers “that’s not who we are”?

Pick up the damn telephone.

Call your Congressional representatives in the House and the Senate.

You know the drill:  Speak your mind, politely, respectfully, but firmly to whoever you get on the phone.

My reader emphasized, and my own distant memory of an internship on the Hill concurs, that these calls really matter.  House and Senate staffs keep notes and logs.  There are regular reports of how many calls came in, on what side, and with what passion or urgency.  \

Paradoxically, because of the ubiquity of social media, an actual human voice that has taken the trouble to pick up a phone carries a great deal of weight.  So call.

The numbers:

The Senate.

The House.

If you’re feeling extra virtuous — your governor and state legislature representatives would also be worth a call.

We can water the tree of liberty not with blood, but words.

Pick up the damn phone.

*Yes, I do know that the conflict there — and “Great” Power strategerizing through its misery — extends well before 2003.  But the Syrian Civil War of the last few years is (at least to me) both a conflict with deep roots and a proximate consequence of Bush the Lesser’s attempt to remake the Middle East into an model US client region.

Image: attr. to Rembrandt van Rijn, The Flight Into Egypt 1627