17,000+ Volunteers Rack Up 35.5 Million Calls and Texts to Voters So Far; 200,000 Conversations Persuade Voters in Battleground States
Contact: Johanna Kichton, [email protected], 202.660.0605
WASHINGTON, D.C.—People’s Action today announced its final push for the 2020 cycle, capitalizing on the massive growth of its groundbreaking distributed organizing program. A Tuesday virtual event featuring progressive superstars Sen. Bernie Sanders, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ill. State Senator Robert Peters will kick off a week of deep canvass voter contact in battleground states, finishing off with a four-day telethon to defeat Trump and heal America.
This week’s events cap an election season of exponential growth for People’s Action, during which the organization:
- Activated more than 17,000 volunteers;
- Made 35.5 million attempts to contact voters in battleground states. Of that total, more than 6.8 million were phone calls and 28.7 million were texts;
- Had a whopping 200,000 deep canvass conversations with conflicted voters;
- Moved 48% of the people towards Biden and completely switched 21% to Biden from voting for Trump or being undecided.
“If Joe Biden wins this election, he will have grassroots, people-powered organizations like ours to thank for it,” People’s Action Director George Goehl said. “The impact People’s Action is having this year is the result of 10 years of work building our movement politics program and a massive influx of volunteers dedicated to making progressive change possible.”
Groundbreaking battleground organizing
For months on end, People’s Action volunteers have powered textbanks and phonebanks every day of the week, relying on a mix of virtual organizing tools, Zoom calls, and virtual events. These online spaces knit together an essential volunteer infrastructure for the left, with the kickoff events for each night’s work hosted by progressive elected officials and candidates like Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, Minn. Attorney General Keith Ellison, writer and activist Naomi Klein, and others.
The volunteers at these events utilized People’s Action’s deep canvass methodology, revealed in an academic study published by Rolling Stone as 102 times more effective than typical presidential voter persuasion methods.
Goehl added, “Most canvassing is verbal leafleting, making a hard pitch, and trying to debate people into supporting Democrats. But not ours. We’re not talking at conflicted voters—especially in rural and suburban neighborhoods. We help people make meaning of this difficult time and discover what they need to get through it. Because of our work, they are moving away from Trump and toward Biden.”
Building a strong foundation
The explosive growth in People’s Action’s electoral organizing has its foundation in careful, intentional work done over the last two election cycles. In 2018, People’s Action and its member organizations assisted winning campaigns in 23 House districts, seven Senate races, 10 gubernatorial races, 115 down-ballot races and 10 ballot initiatives. The organization entered the 2020 cycle with an intention to escalate, and, informed by its long-term agenda, it published a People’s Platform for 2020 to guide its electoral efforts.
At every step along the way, People’s Action focused on building an organizing strategy with staying power while building up candidates who would govern alongside the progressive movement while in office. Its two-year endorsement process for the 2020 Democratic primary culminated in a People’s Presidential Forum series, which included an Iowa forum hailed by The Nation as the “most in-depth, people-powered forum” of the 2020 cycle.
By December, People’s Action had endorsed Bernie Sanders for President, who included People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee in his housing plan.
In addition to endorsing Sanders, People’s Action’s Movement Politics program endorsed more than 70 down-ballot candidates in states across the country: Minnesota, New York, West Virginia, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin, San Francisco, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, including some progressive champions like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Jamaal Bowman.
Online events to drive real change
Once election season pivoted to the general election, People’s Action went all-in to defeat Trump. One of the major features of the effort was a spirited virtual town hall series, including:
- The Rise Up 2020 town hall featuring Bernie Sanders;
- The United Against Trump town hall with Senator Sanders and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, held during the DNC as a reminder of the progressive agenda and to convey a message of unity heading into the general election;
- The Fighting for Rural America town hall with Senator Sanders which disrupted narratives about rural communities and discussed what rural and small-town America needs this election season and beyond.
- Several deep canvass town halls that aimed to turn out volunteers for specific, immediate voter contact activities. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Women’s March Co-President Rinku Sen, and a variety of other progressive leaders participated.
Ad campaigns featuring local voices
People’s Action supplemented its deep canvass work with a powerful advertising series featuring residents of rural battleground areas, telling in their own words why we must defeat Donald Trump this year. People’s Action worked with Local Voices, an advertising firm specializing in creating authentic political ads featuring people who live in the communities where the ads will run, and award-winning documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch. The organization aired these advertisements on television, radio, on billboards, and in digital format in rural battleground areas where our organizers were having deep canvass conversations.
Looking to the future
Tomorrow, People’s Action will host a Deep Canvass Town Hall to Defeat Trump and Heal America, featuring Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, Ill. State Sen. Robert Peters, and musical guest VIC MENSA. Then, later this week, People’s Action will kick-off a Deep Canvass Phone-A-Thon, a final sprint to Election Day to call 500,000 voters living in key battleground states between Saturday, Oct. 31 and Tuesday, Nov. 3.
On the other side of Election Day, People’s Action is preparing to put its organizing juggernaut behind efforts to defend democracy in the event of a contested election.
And, should Biden win the presidency, People’s Action plans to bring its power to bear to win real progressive policies from Congress and the White House.
“Winning the election is only step one,” Goehl said. “We’re at the moment of truth in America. If wealthy special interests and the corporate elite think we’re demobilizing to get back to brunch, they have got another thing coming.”
About People’s Action
People’s Action is a national network of 37 state and local grassroots, power-building organizations united in fighting for justice. We operate the largest progressive rural organizing project in the country. Our new podcast, To See Each Other, complicates the narrative about rural Americans in our most misunderstood, and often abandoned, communities.