From Swing Left Headquarters
Hey Swing Left,
This is how we want to feel after an election!
What you helped achieve in Virginia this week is major. For the first time in 26 years, Virginia Democrats will control both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship. They’ll have the chance to finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and to throw out racially gerrymandered maps drawn by Republicans, establishing fair district lines that stand for a decade. Virginia, which has been trending blue for years at the presidential level, will no longer be hostage to a conservative agenda.
You helped elect the first Muslim-American woman to the Virginia state legislature, Ghazala Hashmi (Senate District 10); and 14 Democrats endorsed by Moms Demand Action, like Nancy Guy (House District 83) — who won by only 18 votes!!!
You travelled across Virginia to knock doors in Swing Districts
Post-Virginia, media headlines are touting strong Democratic momentum going into 2020. What we all did together to help flip the state legislature will have positive repercussions at the state and national levels for years to come.
Here’s a look at how we can pull off even bigger wins in 2020.
Out of 140 Virginia seats up for election, we focused our efforts on the 20 most competitive races. These were the ones most likely to come down to close margins, and where we could have the biggest impact on helping Democrats win.
Using the data-driven, state-focused expertise of the amazing Flippable team (which joined the Swing Left family earlier this year), we analyzed historical results in presidential, statewide, and state legislative elections to identify 15 House of Delegate targets and 5 State Senate targets across three geographies: Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads.
In the end, 89% of our grassroots dollars and 76% of our voter turnout letters went to support Democrats in races decided by single-digit margins.
And we flipped 8 Republican seats and held 6 vulnerable Swing Districts, including House District 94 —a race so close in 2017 that it was decided by drawing a name from a hat.
Our strategy was two-fold: raise early money for our 20 candidates to help build their campaigns, and smartly disburse later funding to the ones who needed it most.
We sent $250,000 to the candidates through our Flip Virginia Fund this summer, when they were still hiring staff and building infrastructure. In the fall, after looking at the numbers, we disbursed $341,000 via our Immediate Impact Fund to close fundraising gaps and boost lagging campaigns. And $272,000 was raised by local Swing Left groups!
Throughout, we analyzed the latest fundraising reports to understand where your dollars would make the greatest difference in taking back the majority. In total, Swing Left and Flippable donors and volunteers raised an incredible $863K for Virginia candidates. That’s almost six times the cost of the average state legislature race.
Thanks to you, our Swing Districts candidates were able to spend less time calling donors — and more time connecting with voters.
Together with volunteers from other great organizations like Sister District, Daily Kos, Pantsuit Nation, EMILY’s List, Vote Forward, Stand Up America, End Citizens United, Virginia Young Democrats, College Democrats and more, you turned up en masse to turn out Virginia voters.
Swing Left volunteers helped get Democratic voters to the polls in three big ways: By sending hand-written letters to Virginia voters; by knocking on doors; and by making calls to voters. We worked with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the Virginia Democratic Party, and the campaigns themselves to point your efforts to the best places.
These time-tested tactics can make all the difference in close elections, and you delivered. Three of our target races were won by ~1,000 votes or less. Overall, voter turnout wasn’t far behind the “Blue Wave” elections of 2017, when Democrats flipped 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. And this year blows 2015 turnout numbers out of the water.
All in all, you wrote 229,000 letters, knocked on 88,000 doors, and made 39,000 calls to help Virginia voters vote.
You hosted letter-writing parties and wrote an amazing 229,000 letters to voters
By working together, we helped Democrats win a total of 14 of our 20 target races and flip the Virginia state legislature blue. Every door knocked, letter written, call made, and dollar raised made a difference — and we can’t wait to do it again in 2020.
We’re one year out from Election Day, and we want to wake up the next morning feeling just like we did this Wednesday: Victorious and proud.
We’ll do it the same way we helped flip the House in 2018 and the Virginia state legislature in 2019: By helping you take action to win the most important elections, from wherever you live. By organizing and fundraising early and effectively. And by choosing our targets wisely.
Starting next week, we’ll share some news and tools to help you get ready for 2020 and maximize your impact on next year’s elections.
In the meantime, there’s one thing you can do right now: Ask a friend to join Swing Left by forwarding this post, or posting on Twitter or Facebook. The more people who are part of the Swing Left community, the greater the impact we can make.
This is how we win.
This is how we beat Trump and the GOP.
This is how we transform our government — together.
Ethan, Catherine, Michelle, Matt, and the Swing Left Team