The Children of Freedom Summer 1964 Will Soon Be Leaders of Freedom Fall 2014 #GA123

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By Kirk Clay

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The seeds planted 50 years ago in Mississippi during Freedom Summer are in full bloom. The children of 1964 — who are now leaders — are positioned to energize this generation of young voters of color and progressive voters for a historic turnout in the midterm election.

By taking advantage of 21st Century demographic data to identify, micro-target and energize voters they can usher in the Freedom Fall of 2014 to make a difference in city halls, state capitols and the U.S. Congress.

The reasons that this year’s Freedom Summer activists will be Freedom Fall Game Changers are centered on three actions known as “Get Active 1, 2, 3.”  This cross-platform effort focuses on the following actions:

  1. Register to vote
  2. Vote Early
  3. Volunteer on Election Day to help others vote.

Background: The stakes are high.  All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, over 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, over 35 state and territorial governorships, over 45 state legislatures, numerous state and local races, as well as various ballot initiatives will be contested.

Yet following the Shelby decision and the new voter ID laws that were passed, there is great concern about the impact that these attacks will have on access to the ballot box for voters who have historically been underrepresented. Especially for voters of color, women, youth, the elderly and voters with disabilities.

Case: Take Ohio for example where the Secretary of State has constantly pushed for policies that restrict the voting options that are the most popular and effective for people of color. This includes early voting, weekend voting, and same day voter registration.

Impact on Election 2014: People of color “vote early” twice the rate of other voters and regularly participate in “Take Your Soul to the Poll” early vote programs on weekends. These strategies energized voters of color and progressives in past elections — making the difference in races for Governor and Senate.

Arguably, the new restrictive voting laws in places like Ohio will affect the voters that had the most impact — Cuyahoga County. In the 2006 midterm, voters from that county represented 12% of the vote share and voters of color made up 14% of the electorate.

The Political Landscape: Concerned about the impact that the Shelby decision will have on access to the ballot box this fall, several civil, human and women rights organizations of all types from all over the country came together to power up for the midterm election.

On July 2, which was the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act, these organizations embraced the first step of the “Get Active” framework and launched a national, non-partisan Power Check Day to encourage voters to verify their voting status. By embracing the cross-platform social media model, they also spoke out on issues like voting rights, women’s health, immigration, workers’ rights, marriage equality, health care, public education and other high-priority issues.  They even posted “selfies” holding up three fingers for the three steps in Get Active.

Participating organizations included the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, American Association of University Women, Election Protection, American Federation of Teachers, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, Unidad Solutions, Rock the Vote, Long Distance Voter, The Leadership Conference, and Get Active 123.

Here are the results: The hashtag #GA123 was the centerpiece of Power Check, which recorded 5,035,716 impacts on July 2 with a reach of 1,562,408 and 3,556 followers per contributor. #GA123 tweets were retweeted 406 times. For the May 20th primary election day the hashtag was also used by voters in many states, generating 244,735 impressions with a reach of 120,903. On that day we recorded 67 tweets retweeted 26 times and 3,556 followers per contributor.

Wrap-up: What does the recent turnout for the primaries and participation in the July 2 Power Check Day say about civic participation 50 years later following the Freedom Summer?  Is there a way to keep voters of color and progressive voter turnout consistent?  Yes!  We have to honor the past and activate the future.

Our goal should be to increase the civic participation rate of voters of color by 3-5% for the 2014 midterm election. We can do this by tapping the power and reach of the progressive community’s capacity to mobilize voters who have historically been underrepresented at the polls.  We have to invest in early vote efforts that target voters who are at risk of being disenfranchised.

The truth is that we have come a long way since 1964.  In order for the children of Freedom Summer 1964 to be the leaders of Freedom Fall 2014 we must all have the courage to organize for our future–NOW.

 

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Kirk Clay, Senior Advisor – PowerPAC

Election 2014: Georgia 1+2+3 = Modern Voting Rights Movement #GA123

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GA123 Turnout By Kirk Clay

Voting Rights Groups Using Social Media To Amplify Their Political Voice #GA123

Last week I participated in #GA123 — one of the most cutting edge civic engagement events this election cycle. This “cross-platform” social media conference attracted over a hundred political leaders from the southeast region including representatives from labor, progressives, civil rights, women, youth and people of color. Featured speakers included AFL-CIO Executive Council member and United Steel Workers’ International Vice President Fred Redmond, House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly Stacey Abrams, League of United Latin American Citizens’ Director of Civic Engagement Sindy Benavides, Chairman of the African American Ministers in Action Reverend Timothy McDonald, III and the Southern Region Director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) Kermit Moore.

This conference was the launch of a plan to unite and mobilize large numbers of white progressive and “voters of color” (VOC) through the…

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Election 2014: Georgia 1+2+3 = Modern Voting Rights Movement #GA123

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GA123 TurnoutBy Kirk Clay

“Voting Rights Groups Using Social Media To Amplify Their Political Voice #GA123”

 

Last week, I participated in #GA123 — one of the most cutting edge civic engagement events this election cycle. This “cross-platform” social media conference attracted over a hundred political leaders from the Southeast region including representatives from labor, progressives, civil rights, women, youth and people of color. Featured speakers included AFL-CIO Executive Council member and United Steel Workers’ International Vice President Fred Redmond, House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly Stacey Abrams, League of United Latin American Citizens’ Director of Civic Engagement Sindy Benavides, Chairman of the African American Ministers in Action Reverend Timothy McDonald, III, and the Southern Region Director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) Kermit Moore.

This Southeastern APRI conference was the launch of a plan to unite and mobilize large numbers of white progressive and “voters of color” (VOC) through the use of “predictive modeling” to strategically micro-target supporters. What’s even more impressive? You could see #GA123’s impact with 200 tweets being reproduced 66 times — a high ratio and strong online activity for a conference of this size. What’s more, many in the audience were media personalities and local “influencers” with large followings, therefore #GA123 could have potentially touched over 120,000 people. The concept is simple, mobilize progressive voters to take three important steps: 1) Vote in the primary election, 2) early vote in the general election, and 3) get a friend to vote on November 4th.

Impact on Election 2014: Conservative Tea Party candidates — like those running for Georgia U.S. Senate — rely on low voter turnout to win in off year elections. The majority of their vote comes from precincts where they have outsized support from older white male voters. Therefore, the only hope progressives have of holding on in the U.S. Senate, is with the help of a “Voters of Color Fire Wall.” This wall can be built in “States of Influence” – places like Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina that are not necessarily majority/minority but have enough diversity to effect the election. The question is- How does one ignite the “Rising Electorate” in a midterm?

Background: “#GA123” Social media outreach has the potential to ignite Georgia’s progressive electorate in 2014. While fostering on-line collaborations in communities that share the same interests, the program could generate enthusiasm in communities that are at risk of high “drop-off” rates. The “sweet spot” is to engage local progressive organizations that are active offline and encourage them to be more active online and “visa versa.” Then involve these supporters in a push to get their on-line networks to vote and to be more active in long-term civic engagement work like holding elected leaders accountable.

Case: Georgia is undergoing a remarkable demographic transformation and will soon be an electoral swing state. For these reasons, Georgia is at the center of the political universe as it relates to the “Rising Electorate.” As witnessed at the state level in 2012, this rising electorate helped to give President Obama 46% (1,773,827) of the Georgia’s vote – only a point off his 2008 performance. More importantly, the VOC vote share grew from 32% in 2008 to 37% for the first time ever. As a result, we now know that a Democrat can successfully win a bid for U.S. Senator with support from 35% of the progressive white vote.

The Political Landscape: The 2010 midterm elections dealt the Democrats a sobering blow. Amidst a hyper partisan ad war, Democrats elected to keep the most valuable weapon in politics — the President of The United States — off the campaign trail. Consequently, they were not able to turnout enough voters to keep the political balance from tilting back to the right.

Here are the results:

1.   An estimated 2,576,037 million voters turned out in November of 2010 –a decrease of 1,316,845 votes from the 2008 election and 1,276,478 less than 2012.

2.   Republican Governor Nathan Deal won with 53% of the vote.

3.   The 8th Congressional district changed from Democrat to Republican by just 10,520 votes.

4.   The GOP gained 2 seats in the state Senate and 9 seats in the state house.

 

What was the long-term damage? Through redistricting, Republicans now control both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats, 9 of the fourteen congressional seats, the governorship, and both state legislative bodies.  As a result, Georgia residents live under political leadership that is hostile to public workers, unresponsive to calls for economic fairness, and which fails to fulfill its responsibility of providing affordable health care to all.  Can Democrats repair the damage and turn it around in 2014 and beyond? Yes. As the future of Georgia politics begin to take shape, there are a few data points to consider:

 

  • Voters of color make up 33% of Georgia’s registered voters (30% Black, 2% Latino, and 1% Asian).
  • Georgia has over 850,000 Latino residents and 26% are eligible to vote.
  • Nationally close to 52, 000 Latinos turn 18 every month and 9 out of 10 of those are eligible to vote.
  • Latinos will account for 52% of Georgia’s new eligible voters in 2016.

 

So what’s happening on the ground? We see progressive movement in areas like Georgia’s House District 111 (35% Black and 6% Latino with a significant youth population). This seat is in a county that gave President Obama 48% of the vote – just 2,925 votes from victory. Henry County has grown by 2.5% to 209,053 and cities like Stockbridge grew 2.5% to 26,281. Note that areas like this will have more than 14,000 “key” Voters of Color and could be decisive in 2014. Devoting resources to high performing VOC precincts here will give a tremendous return on investment.

Wrap-up: Georgia is ready for a concentrated and multilevel campaign to train, equip, and energize their progressive community. The truth is that #GA123 has the capacity to capitalize on the voting trends listed above and boost voter turnout in “at risk” communities. The use of quantified impression-based targeting, demographic data, and technological enhancements will be a value added to traditional civic engagement tools.  This will make it possible to narrow the gap between the number of eligible voters and the number of actual voters. If we can expand the electorate and provide enough momentum to energize voters for 2014 and the 2016 cycles, it won’t be long until the Democrats recapture, maintain, and extend the progressive legislative margins in this new battleground state.

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Kirk Clay is Senior Advisor at PowerPAC

Election 2014: Governor Christie, McDonnell, and Scott – What Do They All Have In Common?

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By Kirk Clay

3 Things You May Not Know About Voters of Color in New Jersey, Virginia, and Florida

What does Governors Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell, and Rick Scott all have in common? They’re all from states rocked by scandal? No. They’re all from states that President Obama won twice? Nope. Medicaid expansion is a hot button issue in all of their states? Maybe, but that’s not all. If you name the variables VA-2that will have the biggest impact this election year, the voter turnout rate for Voters of Color (VOC) could be at the top of the list but the amount of resources spent campaigning is close behind.

Paradigm: For the past few election cycles, conservative institutions and their Tea Party counterparts have leaned on their standard campaign issue – repeal Obamacare. The thinking is that if Republican politicians and conservative institutions pump millions of dollars in deterring Americans from participation in the ACA – including Medicaid expansion — then they will win. However, recent bellwether elections have undermined this long-held cliché and there is evidence based data that points to a backlash brewing.

Background: A significant number of voters believe “sabotage” is the driving motive for the GOP’s obstruction and it has become an exemplifying issue for the modern Republican party. As a result, the Republican brand is damaged in a number of states refusing buckets of money in opposition to Obamacare. Even in a blue state like New Jersey, there are Tea Party calls for Christie to “rethink his position.” To be clear, this well financed push against Medicaid expansion gives insight to a broader set of electoral trends and exposes the symptoms of “Shutdown Syndrome.”

Case: In states like Virginia, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers Medicaid coverage to people who earn up to 138% of the poverty line. This includes childless adults and large portions of the Latinos, African American, and Asian American communities. In short, the federal Treasury will pick up the state’s tab for a number of new clients in the program’s “beginning” years. After that, they will cover a healthy portion of the program for a significant number of years later.

 

The Fundamentals: In Virginia, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli ran for election on a platform that included an “anti- Medicaid expansion” policy. His campaign was bolstered by organizations like Americans for Prosperity and the US Chamber of Commerce — that spent millions of dollars in political advertising to discourage ACA sign-ups. More notably, this advertising was on air in hotly contested media markets like “toss-up” Congressional District VA-2 and State Senate District Six.

The results? Cuccinelli lost to a national DNC leader who never held an elected office, the Republicans lost Senate District 6 — flipping Virginia’s State Senate from Red to Blue, and Republican Congressman Scott Rigell is now in the toughest race of his career.

As the fundamentals of the mid-term elections begin to take shape, there are a few data points to consider:

  1. There was an unexpectedly strong VOC turnout for the 2013 election cycle — with people of color making up 28% of Virginia’s electorate.
  2. Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Cuccinelli, State Senate candidate Colman, and GOP Presidential candidate Romney all carried Virginia’s independent voters by double-digits and still lost.
  3. President Obama’s approval is above the critical 46% level in states like Virginia, Florida, and New Jersey — demonstrating his political resilience.
  4. The Democrats have regained their lead on the Congressional generic ballot (40%-38%) – more evidence that voters prefer politicians that show the ability to take a problem head-on and fix it.

So what’s happening on the ground? Districts of influence – areas with enough diversity to impact the election – are becoming more than just a firewall against anti-Obamacare advertising. Note that State Senate Candidate Lynwood Lewis was out spent by Republican Wayne Colman $395,632 to 598,982 and the airwaves were saturated with Anti-Obamacare advertising. However, Lewis invested in VOC and was able to offset a decline in support from independent voters. This was a vital component of his strategy and could prove decisive in 2014.

Example: Virginia’s CD-2 is 7% Latino, 21% African American, and 5% Asian with over 52,000 youth between the ages of 18-25 – President Obama won this district with 50% of the vote in 2012. Similar to Virginia’s Senate District 6, this seat is based in Norfolk which is 53% People of Color. Remember, Governor Bob McDonnell won this area with 54% of the vote in 2009 then President Obama won with 72% of the vote in 2012. The centerpiece of Lewis’ winning strategy was to invest in high performing VOC precincts like 213 (Taylor Elementary School) where President Obama received 65% of the precinct’s vote in 2012.

As the campaign season begins, it’s important to keep in mind that most voters are not all that interested in why things haven’t worked. Why should they? Every morning they get up looking for solutions to kitchen table problems — not excuses. Their goal is to get results for their family which means they will support policies and candidates that help to make ends meet. Imagine how many more insured Americans we would have if Congress did the same? The truth is that voters have little patience for “bumper sticker” solutions and this November they’ll be looking for someone to make things better.

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Kirk Clay is Senior Advisor at PowerPAC

HOPE DESERVES A SIMPLE VOTE, NOT ANOTHER SHOWDOWN

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HOPE DESERVES A SIMPLE VOTE, NOT ANOTHER SHOWDOWN.

2013 in Review: Kirk Clay

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2013 annual report for Kirk’s blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Election 2014: Democrats Can Win Back the House, By Fixing It

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English: Number of self-identified Democrats v...

By Kirk Clay

The best part of my Thanksgiving weekend was sitting around the table with family debating the upcoming NCAA national championship game. I have to admit, I love talking with my brother — a lifelong Buckeye – who is always optimistic that Ohio State can go all the way. Then there’s my father – a lifelong Alabama fan – that regularly reminds everyone that “It’s unlikely for the Bucks to beat ‘Bama if they play each other.” However, in sports (as well as politics) you can never be certain of the results until after the game. That’s why they play the game.

Yes, America loves a comeback story. Watching the excitement generated by Auburn’s victory over top ranked Alabama during the last seconds of the game reminded me of Election 2014 and the possible electoral impact the “Rising Electorate” may have. I began to ask myself, “will this mid-term election be decided by last minute local issues or long-term national concerns?” Will this be a referendum on the “Do-nothing” Congress, Government Shutdown or Obamacare?

What’s remarkable is how — for reasons hard to explain – 2012 issues and dynamics are being dragged into 2014. Remember 2012 was a hyper polarized political environment where attitudes solidified quickly and “Obamacare” didn’t peel off many voters. The Democrats netted 8 seats in the House and gained a foothold in the Senate by winning 80% of the competitive Senate races. Also, they gained 170 more state legislative seats nationwide and took over 8 state legislative chambers including complete control of Colorado. In other words, everyone that hates “Obamacare” has probably already voted against it and everyone that voted for President Obama will probably still vote Democrat.

So what’s different? Consumer confidence is at a 6 year high and the GOP driven Government shutdown seems to be sticking. The Democrats didn’t have these weapons in 2012 and now the stage is set for an upsurge for President Obama’s coalition that includes progressive whites, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, women, youth and unions.

As the fundamentals of the mid-term elections begin to take shape, there are a few data points to consider. As listed in Gallup’s recent national survey:

  1. Congress has a 9% approval rating (the lowest ever)
  2. 59% say their disapproval is driven by perceived “Gridlock /
    Ineffectiveness”
  3. Party identification for Republicans is 6 points lower than last
    November
  4. The electorate still blames the GOP for the disadvantageous
    “Government Shutdown” and Congressional unfavorable ratings are a record high
  5. Businesses added 215,000 jobs in November (capping a better-than-expected year)

Furthermore, there were fewer than 60 laws enacted this year, so this is officially the least productive Congress ever. In other words, the Republicans will not have a record of “fixing things” to run on while the Democrats will tout saving the economy from default and fighting to keep the Government open. Will these numbers drive voters to throw the bums out and flip the House? No one knows for sure but these issues and others could be the catalyst.
For Example, take Colorado’s CD-6 where the district is 20% Latino, 9% African American, 5% Asian and there are over 60,000 youth between the ages of 18-25. The President won this district with 54% (182,464) of the vote and GOP Congressman Mike Coffman scraped by with only 48% (150,587) of the vote. That’s a difference of 31,877 more votes for Democrats.

Remember Coffman won by 7,001 votes in 2012, a Presidential election year.  This is about 2% of List of House Racesturnout but we expect him to garner 3-5% more votes in a mid-term election. However, there were over 12,000 ballots cast that did not choose a Congressional candidate between Adams and Arapahoe counties (both counties are favorable towards Democrats). Lastly, Colorado recently passed a law requiring all registered voters to receive a ballot in the mail and allowing Election Day registration. These factors will increase midterm turnout for progressives.

Will these dynamics play out in the 17 Congressional districts needed to flip the House? Yes. The truth is that voters in places like Toledo care more about the price of milk, the economy and the Buckeyes –not necessarily in that order – than the healthcare website. It’s our experience that people won’t vote for politicians that ignore underlying issues or problems but they’ll vote for someone to fix them. Simply put, “nothing from nothing leaves anything and doing nothing isn’t working.” If a candidate can show the ability to take a problem head-on and fix it, they will garner a lot of respect and votes.

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Kirk Clay is Senior Advisor at PowerPAC

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