We REALLY did it! IEB and the Blue Wave

We did it!

That was the cry — half delight, half relief — that all progressives expressed on Election Day 2018 … when it became clear that the Democrats would retake control of the House of Representatives.

But those of us in Indivisible East Bay could have more accurately exclaimed: “We really did it!” That’s because, over the final months of the campaign season, we engaged in a major push of canvassing, phone-banking and text-banking, all with the goal of flipping several key Republican positions. When the dust settled (which took almost two weeks to do, with one race still undecided), the results proved how spectacularly effective we had been.

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona & Ted canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox – that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona!

To see for yourself, take a look at what happened in five important races where IEB put muscle into flipping seats from red to blue (note: races listed with CA- followed by a number were for the US House of Representatives; the number is the Congressional district):

  • Josh Harder, CA-10. We worked hard for this Congressional seat in CA-10, the flippable district geographically closest to the Bay Area. IEB members phone and text banked, and some traveled to the district to canvass. Initial results had Republican Jeff Denham, the incumbent for the past two election cycles, in the lead — and pundits were already giving up on Harder. But the race remained officially “too close to call.” Then on the Friday after Election Day, with mail-in and provisional ballots skewing Democratic, Harder pulled ahead and stayed there — resulting in a huge upset victory. The margin was narrow (50.9% to 49.1%) but we won!
  • TJ Cox, CA-21. If the current vote margins don’t change, this nailbiter may be a heartbreaker. Spurred on by Team Blue Wave Contra Costa organizer Kook Huber, IEB strongly committed to getting TJ Cox elected as CA-21’s representative to Congress, a rural heavily-Latino Central California district where Republican David Valadao is the incumbent. We canvassed in this district as much as or more than anywhere else. The race was unofficially called for Valadao on election night, but ballots still continue to be counted and the lead narrowed and keeps narrowing. While still considered a long shot, there is a real chance for Cox to pull out a victory. Currently, Cox is less than 1,000 votes behind Valadao, with around 22,000 votes still to be counted. Whatever the final outcome, there is reason to feel good about this race. In 2016, Valadao bested his Democratic opponent by 13 percentage points; this time around, the difference should be razor thin, perhaps within 100 votes! We’re headed in the right direction.
  • Harley Rouda, CA-48. This was perhaps the biggest shocker — and most welcome — of all the California races. Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher has represented this deeply red Southern California district for three decades! Known for his pro-Russia views and solid support for Trump, he was at the top of the list of Representatives we most wanted to oust. IEB sent postcards, text-banked and phone banked on behalf of challenger Democrat Harley Rouda. It worked! In the end, Rouda bested Rohrabacher by more than 5 percentage points. Postscript: With victory now declared for Gil Cisneros, the Democrats have swept all seven Orange County House seats!
  • Jacky Rosen, Senate, Nevada. IEB was approached by our sister Indivisible, Indivisible Northern Nevada, which asked us to join their highly organized Issue Voters Project focusing on Washoe County, which encompasses Reno. Led by IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni Henle, we made a huge push via phone-banking and especially with canvassing, including knocking on doors in Reno for the final weekend before the election. The result was incredible: Washoe County, formerly solid red, turned blue and went for Rosen over incumbent Dean Heller by 4 percentage points! It was the key result that led to Rosen’s ultimate state-wide victory. Making the win even sweeter, this was a race where Trump got personally involved, derisively referring to Rosen as “Wacky Jacky.”
  • Kyrsten Sinema, Senate, Arizona. A Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have scripted a more thrilling ending to this race. In Arizona, a traditionally red but increasingly purple state, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was challenging GOP candidate Martha McSally for the Senate seat currently held by the retiring Jeff Flake. Democrats believed they had a real shot to win this. But on the first days after the election, the situation looked grim as McSally built a seemingly insurmountable lead of more than 20,000 votes. Then came the surprise. By Monday November 13, after mail-in votes were tallied, a stunning reversal occurred. With a turn-around lead of more than 38,000 votes, Sinema was declared the victor — despite Trump’s and the GOP’s attempts to muddy the waters with baseless claims of voter fraud. This is huge! Sinema will become the first Democratic Senator from Arizona since the 1980’s. Once again, IEB contributed to this success via several phone-banking events.
Phone banking for Kyrsten Sinema
Phone banking for Kyrsten Sinema

The bottom-line message couldn’t be more clear: what we do can make a difference. It definitely did make a difference in 2018. But there remains much work to be done. There’s still time to help Mike Espy win the Senate seat in the Mississippi special runoff election on November 27. And it’s not too early to start building the Blue Wave that will take out Trump in 2020.

There’s no crying in canvassing

Deadline: ASAP and through November 6, 2018

Yep, last week sucked. And now we have the Honorable* justice** Kavanaugh. But there’s no crying in baseball, don’t give up at halftime, take a breath and come back out swinging. If you’ve ever said you’d contribute some day — that day is TODAY. The task is clear: we need to get control of at least one house of Congress on November 6. It’s time for EVERYONE to step up to canvass, phone, text, postcard, donate . . . all of the above . . . today and every day through November 6!

Here’s just some of what Indivisible East Bay members and friends, heroes all, did last week:

Canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox:

IEB members Fiona and Carl, and CA-11 team co-lead Ted canvassed with SwingLeft in Sanger for TJ Cox, who’s running for Congress in CA-21. Read their report here. TJ is a charismatic and progressive Democrat running against incumbent Republican David Valadao. By day’s end, the entire group had knocked on 710 doors and had 174 targeted conversations, got 21 pledge cards and two vote-by-mail forms filled out, ending up with a 24% contact rate! The IEB trio even got three people to put up TJ Cox yard signs in very noticeable locations! 

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona and Ted canvassing in CA-21 for TJ Cox – that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona!

Canvassing in Reno and Manteca:

IEB member Mandeep writes: “I’ve also had an awesome time canvassing streets in Reno and Manteca, in addition to the phone canvassing I’ve been doing. I like looking people in the eye! Sure, most doors are not answered, and a few people are clearly right-leaning and don’t want to talk with you further (though even then, I’ve only had civil and polite exchanges) — but some folks are hungry for information on voting, how to get more involved, and are grateful that you’ve shown up at their door. Just a couple of these kinds of interactions in an afternoon of canvassing can really make your day, and make you feel it’s all worth it. And of course, it just intrinsically is, as in-person canvassing has been shown to be the NUMBER ONE way to have an effect on voters. And, as I say regularly — we happen just to have a country to save here. So yes — it matters. Always remember: the founders of your nation are smiling upon you as you walk the streets.”

Canvassing in Manteca. Photo by Mandeep S. S. Gill
Canvassing in Manteca. Photo by Mandeep S. S. Gill

Phone banking AND postcarding at Red-to-Blue HQ:

Double duty in Dublin! CA-15 Team co-lead LeAnn reports that it was “sitting on the floor room only” at the IBEW Hall in Dublin, where close to 50 highly motivated progressives filled up two rooms and the hallway during back-to-back postcarding and phone banking events on October 6. The union hall is being made available by CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell and his staff to serve as the “Red-to-Blue” headquarters through the mid-term elections to organizations that want to help get out the vote in battleground districts across the country.

Postcarding in CA-15 on 100618, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

We wrote 400 postcards in support of Jessica Morse, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Tom McClintock in CA-4; the crowd was big enough that there was also an opportunity to write an additional 50 cards for Harley Rouda, running in CA-48 against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

Postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Overflow crowd postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

Phone banking overlapped with the postcarding and carried on into the afternoon; several die-hards opted to participate in both! IEB Governance Committee members Nick, Linh, and Ward joined a host of others to phone bank for Jessica Morse or for Andrew Janz, who’s running against Devin Nunes in CA-22, or for Iowa candidates J.D. Scholten (IA-4) and Deidre DeJear (Secretary of State).

 

Phone banking for Arizona Democrats: 

Fifteen phone bankers gathered in Richmond, spreading out around the home and beautiful garden of CA-11 Team co-lead Kristen and phone bank superstar Tom.

Hammock phone banking! CA-11 member Tom calling AZ voters
Hammock phone-banking! CA-11 member Tom calling AZ voters

A lot of new people were trained to use Hubdialer and quickly got to work talking to Arizonans, helping identify supporters of Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema and down-ticket Dems, and hitting the phone bank jackpot once in a while to sign up a volunteer. When we were using the system we did an average of 1,500 dials and had a 20% contact rate. Our partners, the AZ Democratic Party, would love to get more folks involved in calling to Arizona. Sign up here or email tpagan@azdem.org

George phone banking to AZ, with an assist from Henry the Indivisi-bulldog
George phone banking to AZ, with an assist from Henry the Indivisi-bulldog

 

Phone banking in Oakland for Issue Voters of Northern Nevada:

An enthusiastic crowd of 25 gathered at former CA-13 team lead Janine’s in Rockridge to call into areas around Reno. IEB phone bankers had whipped through the original database of Non-Partisan Voters in Reno and we were now able to expand to areas that our partner organization, Issue Voters of Northern Nevada, hadn’t expected to reach. Callers were able to either congregate (sometimes good for morale after a difficult or successful call) or spread out into more quiet areas. We called in the neighborhood of 1,200 households and reached the usual one in ten, or around 120 people. Our work making calls helps IVNN’s canvassing: they can target people we identify as “persuadables” who are still making up their minds, rather than knocking on every door, and canvassers will also be aware in advance of voters’ top issues that will motivate them to go to the polls.

Phone banking in Oakland, photo by Toni Henle
Phone banking in Oakland, photo by Toni Henle

 

Writing postcards to low-turnout Nevada voters:

And more help for Nevada! More than 30 IEB members and friends at our postcard party in El Cerrito wrote more than 350 postcards to a carefully targeted list of voters registered as “non-partisan” who didn’t vote in 2016. Scripts created by Issue Voters of Northern Nevada politely but firmly urged the addressees to vote, including: “If we don’t vote, we can’t complain. Make sure your voice is heard this year: VOTE!”

Postcard party to NV voters, photo by Heidi Rand
Postcard party writing to Nevada voters, photo by Heidi Rand

The party started shortly after the Kava-nauseous vote occurred, and we were all grateful to be among kindred souls taking direct action to fight back. Almost double the number of RSVPs showed up and IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni worked miracles to provide more addresses to the eager writers.

 

Here’s what you can do in the days ahead:

Canvassing and phone banking are the top two most effective ways to contact voters and make the Blue Wave happen. We need your help!

  • Find IEB phone banks and canvassing trips and sign up at out our “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list & calendar, also easily accessible on our home page
  • Sign up to get our weekly list of phone banks and canvassing trips
  • Check out opportunities to canvass, phone or text bank, write postcards, and more, with these great organizations IEB works in coalition with:
  • Join Indivisible Berkeley in phoning Nevada voters from home to help flip the critical NV Senate seat. Info & sign up here. Check out other IB events too.
  • See the East Bay for TJ Cox events calendar to support the CA-21 congressional candidate.
  • Canvass in CA-21 with Swing Left East Bay. Check upcoming events and sign up here.
  • Knock on doors to help flip CA-10 for Josh Harder. Info & sign up here.
  • Swing Left Contra Costa hosts monthly voter registration in Tracy (CA-10) on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Check their event calendar.
  • Canvass with Working America AFL-CIO in CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley). You’ll get excellent training and can then sign up for volunteer shifts.
  • Can’t canvass yourself? Donate to support one of the great groups listed above. You can even sponsor a canvasser in CA-21 by donating to Valley Forward, which helps employ people living in the district.

 

* Your results may vary.

** oh please.

Phone-bank and canvass like the life of the Republic depends on it!

Summer is ending and it’s time to get serious about flipping Congress. We have a little over two months left to do everything we can to activate voters before the 2018 midterms. But don’t freak out, there are things you can do:

Those of us who know that Trump and everything he stands for must be RESOUNDINGLY REJECTED must do the hard work of advanced citizenship … It’s called organizing and absolutely every single one of us is capable of doing it. No matter your skill, experience, or background, no matter how little time you have to spare. Everyone can do something.

As you may know, Indivisible East Bay has partnered with Indivisible Northern Nevada on a special phone-banking and canvassing project to reach Reno voters who have registered non-partisan but are progressive on issues such as health care, civil rights, and immigration. We’re giving them the information they need to vote for a Senate candidate who shares their values. We’re also making calls to recruit local volunteers to help with these efforts. 

What you can do: sign up to canvass and phone bank!

Sign up here for IEB canvass trips to Reno:

Trips cover weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. We will be joining local Indivisible Northern Nevada volunteers and may be able to help with carpools and lodging.

  • September 15 & 16
  • September 29 & 30
  • October 20 & 21
  • October 27 &  28
  • November 3 & 4

Sign up here for phone banks sponsored by IEB:

We’ll also be calling voters in Nevada and recruiting volunteers here in the Bay Area to help us in Nevada.

  • Thursday 8/30, 6:30-8:30 PM, phone bank in Richmond
  • Sunday 9/2, 2:30-5:30 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Temescal
  • Thursday 9/6, 6-8 PM, phone bank in East Oakland (near Mills College)
  • Sunday 9/9, 9/2 2:30-5:30 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Temescal
  • Tuesday 9/11, 6-8 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Claremont

We’re looking to expand our phone banks to all corners of the East Bay. If you don’t see one listed near you, please contact us to find out how to host one, or recruit a friend or neighbor to do so. We can provide all the support you need!

Sign up to phonebank with some other great local organizations to help flip swing districts in California:

You can even sign up to make calls to swing districts all across the country from the comfort of your own home! Sign up with Swing Left here. It’s even more fun if you invite some neighbors over!

 

Canvassing with Indivisible Northern Nevada

At the Indivisible East Bay July All Member Meeting, two of our colleagues from Indivisible Northern Nevada gave a presentation about their efforts identifying issues that matter to voters in the Reno area as part of the campaign to get out the vote to unseat Senator Dean Heller, identified as one of the most vulnerable Republican Senators. They were so inspiring that in early August, 2018, a group of IEB members traveled to Reno to attend the 2018 Lake Tahoe Summit and to canvass and register voters in northern Nevada with our Indivisible colleagues. 

Our Indivisible Northern Nevada hosts, all women, greeted us at the picnic tables at Reno’s Idlewild Park with coffee, orange juice, and three kinds of pastries all laid out on a floral tablecloth. After an enthusiastic welcome, some wrangling of the MiniVan app, and a little roleplaying, we were ready to talk to some voters. The goal was to identify issues the voters cared about and decide what, if any, further contact to plan with them. We split into pairs; my partner Ruth happened to live nearby so we decided to start in her neighborhood, which made it very easy to find the addresses that popped up on my phone. 

The first person we talked to was a stocky man with a sunburn who came out around the side of his house smoking a cigar. As planned, we asked him what issues he was thinking about in the upcoming election. He said he was pretty happy with how things were going for him, and would stay happy as long as his taxes were low. We probably could have said “thank you for your time” right then and there and taken him off the list. But he was polite and reasonably friendly, if a little smug, so we pressed a little further, asking what he thought of the state of Reno’s infrastructure and about recent changes to the federal tax code. He said he got a $10K tax cut and that if Reno outgrew its infrastructure he’d just move somewhere else. Then his wife came out to tell him his mom was on the phone and we were able to make a graceful exit.

Our next experience was happier. We talked to a young woman just out of nursing school who came to the door in a bathrobe with a towel on her head, yet was happy to chat with the strangers at the door about her top issues: student debt and cost of living. With her busy life, she didn’t know anything about the candidates for Senate or other upcoming elections, but she promised to educate herself by November, and to vote. After consulting in the car, we decided that we didn’t need to send anyone back to talk to her more about the issues and we marked her “GOTV” so that someone would call or visit to remind her to vote.

After a few unanswered knocks, we came to a house that seemed to have no door. The front of the house was a row of garages and at closer inspection there was a door at the back of one of them. We ventured inside to knock, and retreated back to the driveway. Just when we were giving up and turning to leave, a white-haired woman who looked to be in her seventies opened the door. She said she hadn’t really thought about the issues or which ones were most important to her. When we suggested some common answers like health care, jobs and the economy, or the environment, she said that “all those things must be important to anyone who’s alive” but didn’t really offer anything further.  She talked about a need for balance and cooperation in government and seemed mildly enthusiastic about the fact that so many women are getting involved and running for office right now. Back in the car, we decided that she probably could use another conversation to make her feel that her vote mattered and to be sure she knew which candidates agreed with her on the issues and would bring balance to Washington: we marked her “MAYBE.”

Even our Trumpiest door knock was calm and cordial, probably in part because we identified ourselves as non-partisan and asked for information rather than giving it. A middle-aged woman on crutches told us that she thought things were “finally on the right track” now that Trump was in office. We felt sad for her, suspecting that she is one of those supporters who is actually hurt by the president’s policies, but got a certain amount of satisfaction out of emphatically taking her off our list for future visits.

At our next stop, we met a man whose top issue was immigration. He said straight off that we definitely need “some” immigration to get people to do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do. He also said that people who enter the country without permission are “breaking the law” and should face consequences, and should need to prove that they haven’t come to do harm. But he was kind of wavering on whether it was okay to lock them all up in detention for fleeing violence or seeking a better life for their families. We marked him down as a strong MAYBE, almost envying the interesting conversation in store for the volunteer who comes back to engage him further about the facts around immigration and how to vote in alignment with his beliefs.

Our last conversation of the day was with a young father whose front yard was full of children’s toys, and who was the only non-white person we came across in that neighborhood. It was a short visit both because he was obviously busy and because it was pretty clear right away that he was a strong progressive informed on the issues and in favor of Medicare for all. We marked him “GOTV” and both sort of regretted that we didn’t at least ask if he wanted to volunteer; but it hadn’t occurred to us until after the moment had passed.

The group reconvened back at the park to discuss our experiences and talk about what we want to do better next time. The canvassers were energized, feeling good about people’s responses to getting questions about their opinions and priorities rather than being asked to support a candidate or fed a party line. Some also expressed a sense that out of all these voters who had registered as non-partisan, more were leaning leftward than rightward on the issues.

As for our goals to do better next time, we all thought we needed some more strategies to draw out relatively uninformed people in naming their top issues. And we noted our inclination to spend perhaps too many of our valuable canvasing minutes having long conversations with enthusiastic progressives, but decided there was value in that too both for our own morale and theirs.

Certainly my own morale was lifted by the trip, especially meeting the Indivisible Nevadans who fed us, opened their guestrooms to us, and taught us how to make connections with their neighbors and community.

If you’d like to join next time please fill out this form.