Reports continue to show that a physical, on-the-ground, presence was crucial to blocking the blue wave in 2020. Heritage Action has long-recognized the value of a long-term, grassroots infrastructure to drive GOTV and policy persuasion, and this year was no exception.
Heritage Action reached 3.5 Million voters by door-to-door canvassing, phone calls and text messages through Project 2020 and will now activate it’s grassroots base in Georgia reaching another 1.5 Million voters. This will bring total voter contacts to 5 Million.
Leading Democrats are taking note and adjusting their strategy.
Ground Game: What Democrats are Now Saying
“A lot of money is spent in states like Florida, but how are they spending it? Don’t just invest in television ads. Invest in field,” said Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, one of the Democratic Party’s younger progressive voices gaining traction, adding much of the losses she’s seen from Democrats stems from a lack of field game, partially due to Democrats not having face-to-face interactions with voters over the pandemic.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
“The decision to stop knocking doors is one people need to grapple with and analyze. Rep. Ilhan and Rep. Tlaib never stopped and may very well have helped deliver a Biden Presidency bc of it” (Twitter)
“We need to do a lot of anti-racist, deep canvassing in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to an organizing tactic that involves long, substantive conversations with potential voters. “I think a lot of Dem[ocratic] strategy is to avoid actually working through this.”
“Many prominent Democrats, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have long been concerned about the party’s vulnerabilities with Latino voters; and in Florida, local workers were worried about the Republicans’ strong ground game while their own campaigning was almost entirely virtual because of the pandemic.”
“Rather than bolstering their majority, as planned, Democrats lost a handful of freshman lawmakers who had just won in a 2018 midterm election backlash against the president. Among the shortcomings lawmakers complained about in the Thursday call: They didn't knock on doors to meet voters, focusing instead on phone calls, digital outreach, and TV ads, due to the health risks of campaigning during the pandemic.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Non-habitual voters require a human touch. “Historically, you engage them in a more personal way, with one-on-one contact, through rallies, through GOTV, in churches...I had a woman tell me, ‘You know, I haven’t seen a single commercial. I can’t afford cable TV.’” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.
New Hampshire Public Radio senior political reporter Josh Rogers credited the wins in part to GOP campaigns prioritizing human contact with voters while Democrats were more fearful of coronavirus.
“Republicans really tried to maintain traditional face-to-face campaigning,” Rogers said. “They knocked on doors. They held public events. They dropped off campaign fliers by hand and so on. Democrats really decided to rein that in consciously. They skipped a lot of in-person campaigning.”
“We need to get some answers on what’s going on the last few cycles with polling,” said Tester. “I got on the phone with many a donor and told them Montana was tied or within the margin, and you need to send money. And it wasn’t. That’s false advertising. That means we’re putting funds in places that aren’t working.”
Murphy said he was hoping to refocus small-dollar donor energy and cash toward “building permanent political infrastructures in every state rather than just channeling it toward the flavor-of-the-week candidate.”
“Why does Nevada move into the Democratic column more quickly than other Southwestern states?” Murphy asked rhetorically. “It’s because Harry Reid built the permanent political organization. Why does Georgia look different than Florida and North Carolina? Because of Stacey Abrams.”