Dear fellow Democrats,
Why do we always wait until the last minute to engage in politics and get excited about major elections?
Here’s an idea — let’s act as if the 2020 general election will be held on April 1 instead of November 3. Imagine how much we could increase our chances of winning if we opened our wallets, engaged our networks, and signed up to volunteer seven months out from an election.
But on April 1, we won’t yet know the results of the presidential primary? And that’s months before the epic floor battle we’re all dreading at the DNC Convention in Milwaukee!
While anything is seemingly possible right now in politics (see also: butt dialing reporters), we’re not quite at the place where we are moving up the date of the general election. But what if we went into 2020 as if the election were held on April 1?
What if donors and funders moved resources to the field campaigns and candidates by April 1, 2020?
What if volunteers signed up to write post cards and make calls and talk to family and friends by April 1, 2020?
What if, rather than freaking out in October because we don’t have enough money / time / volunteers, we had an extra seven months to prepare for The Big Day?
Certainly, there are things we won’t know by April 1 — most obviously who will be at the top of the ticket — but if we wait until we know who that will be, it’ll be too late to do the heavy lifting that 2020 will require.
The benefits of this approach would be substantial and game-changing. If we begin 2020 as if Election Day is on April 1, we would:
Donate and move money into on-the-ground efforts to register, persuade, and mobilize voters. As EMILY’s List name says, Early Money Is Like Yeast.
Lock in early ad buy rates, decrease duplication through better coordination, and take advantage of other economies of scale that come with having full coffers and volunteer lists.
Innovate, experiment, fail, learn from those failures, and adjust our tactics to better engage voters in this important election.
Improve the quality of campaign staff who not only spend more time training and perfecting their efforts (thus, increasing the odds of achieving their goals), but also get to connect with independent and undecided voters months before we hit peak sensory overload BREAKING NEWS exasperation.
Plan for and decrease the impact of the attacks and security breaches that we all know are coming.
Most importantly, if we begin 2020 as if Election Day is on April 1, we would increase the likelihood that we win on November 3.
If you agree, here’s what you can do:
Step 1: Sign up. Kudos if you’ve already plugged into one of the presidential campaigns. While it’s true that there are only 84 days until Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus, there are also a ton of other high-priority races between now and April 1 — many of which need your help and support right now. So if you’re ready to turn out the vote in the Texas primaries on March 3 or excited to re-elect Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx in Chicago on March 17, sign up to write postcards, canvass, text, phonebank, whatever you like to do.
Step 2: Donate early. Early money is, in fact, like yeast. Groups on the ground know how to win and, more often than not, have plans in place and will be ready to implement them once they have the right resources. Figure out what you’re able to donate in 2020 and challenge yourself to move half of that by April 1, if you can. Don’t know who to give to? Contact me and I will help you.
Step 3: Invite others. This work is way more fun if you invite friends to join you. Reach out to three friends and ask them if they want to register voters in your nearest swing district. Host a postcard writing brunch for Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas. Take a road trip to knock doors for Sara Gideon in Maine.
The energy and excitement we saw in Tuesday’s elections indicate that we can win in 2020, but we’d be foolish to think it’s going to be easy. With all that’s at stake right now, acting as if the general election will be held on April 1 might be the smartest path to victory on November 3.