Moreover, if Democrats gain in state houses throughout the country this fall and in 2020, they will be in a position to affect how Congressional districts are redrawn after the 2020 census, which can undo a lot of the gerrymandering — manipulation of district boundaries — that has given Republicans an unfair advantage, such that the number of elected Republicans is far greater than it would be if one person’s vote truly counted as much as another’s. (Republicans got about 50 percent of the votes for Congress in 2016, but ended up with about 55 percent of the seats. In 2018, Democrats need to win House races by about 7% on average to overcome gerrymandering — not counting vote suppression, where Dems are prevented from voting via ID laws, closed polling places, and so forth. As of Sept. 6, Dems had an 8% advantage in “generic ballot” opinion polls, leaving not much margin.)
But you already know all that.
The prognosticators — remember them? the folks who were so sure Hair Furor could never be elected — seem to think it’s pretty likely the Democrats will gain control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections (if we get out and do our jobs). As for the Senate, while most projections favor the Republicans retaining control, enough seats are considered “toss-ups” that Dems could take over there, too, which would be huge, because the Senate ratifies judicial appointments.
That Is the Question
What’s not evident in polls and predictions is that “blue wave” everyone's talking about. That doesn’t mean there won't be a wave; it means there will be one only if we create it. Pollsters either report what all registered voters say or weight the results based on who they consider to be likely voters. On this latter measure, they were far wrong in 2008, when Barack Obama attracted many people to the polls who usually don’t bother to vote, and again in 2016, when the Orange Julius did the same, mobilizing a very different constituency. (He still would not have been elected but for Republican shenanigans that disenfranchised many voters, particularly in communities of color. Those shenanigans have continued, meaning we have even higher hurdles to leap this November.)
Much is made of the enthusiasm of anti-Trump voters this year, but the Prima Donald has also ratcheted up the motivation of his base. So, even more than in most years, in 2018 it comes down to the ground game: Who will do a better job of turning out their supporters on November 6 (and in early voting by mail and in person). Here, progressives have a natural edge, with more community consciousness, more experienced activists, and a resistance movement the likes of which this country may never have seen before.
But success won’t be handed to us; we have to go out and grab it. That’s where you come in.
Between now and election day, progressives must put in time and effort (as well as money), and must do so strategically. The purpose of this blog, and particularly today’s post, is to help you figure out the most effective place to focus your support.
At a recent Paint Congress Blue event in Oakland, CA, I interviewed representatives of several organizations to help readers of this blog figure out where to volunteer. Their efforts are centered on the San Francisco Bay Area, but most are chapters of national organizations, so you probably can find counterparts throughout the country. All the groups are doing good work. Some may be more effective than others, but the key, as with all volunteer activities, is what appeals to you most, because you will put in the most time and the best effort where you are most motivated.
Here, in a nutshell, is my brief summary, organized according to what might attract you. Pick one, and get in touch (with it or its counterpart where you are) right away. Remember, as I write these words, only nine weeks remain before this most consequential of elections. So, please read on, and before you do anything else, click the provided link to volunteer with the group of your choice.
Bay Area groups focused on flipping the Congress have targeted two districts that are about 2½ hours’ driving distance away: the 10th District (Modesto area), with a voting history that’s about evenly Democratic and Republican; and the 21st District (Fresno area), leaning about five points Democratic. (I attended an event at which CD 21’s Democratic challenger T.J. Cox spoke. I was very impressed — both that he’s a good guy and that he knows how to win.)
Choose one group, and get going. (And if you can't quite decide which is best for you, just pick one — they’re all good, and taking action now is crucial.) I’ve provided links for signing up in the Bay Area, and elsewhere throughout the country.
We can end GOP control of the House, and possibly the Senate, only if these efforts are well staffed with thousands of volunteers. After you’ve signed up with the group of your choice, please spread the word — click here to share on Facebook, click here to share on Twitter, and please e-mail your contacts, urging them to visit http://effectiveprogressive.org. I also welcome your additions, comments, and questions — click Comments below.