I’ve been reading comments along the lines of “how do we repeat 2012 in 2014?” and I’ve been thinking about that, too. Here’s the thing, though. The 2012 effort was huge, even the small section of it that I witnessed. We had a full-time organizer staying at the house beginning in May, I think, although it may have been earlier. We had canvassing shifts every spring weekend where we ID’ed voters for both Obama and Sherrod Brown. After that, we had people in blue states making phone calls so we could concentrate exclusively on knocking doors to get the “sporadic voters” we had identified out and early voted. We had really, really good lists that were updated constantly, so much so that I had this nice middle aged woman go into fits of laughter election day at 6:30 PM when I was the third person to knock on her door. She was giggling at the lunacy of it all: “I just got back from voting! I swear I did!” We basically followed that woman until she voted. Luckily she liked us and had a sense of humor. That’s separate and apart from the whole voter protection element what with the regional teams of lawyers and all. I’m not clear how that would go in 2014. We had great volunteers, but we also had a full-time organizer who worked 12 hours a day.
My only other experience with folding OFA in where Obama was not on the ballot was 2010-11 in Ohio, and the collective bargaining fight. The collective bargaining effort was run by labor groups and was deliberately and carefully planned as non-partisan and issue-oriented. We were told early on that labor groups did not want a “partisan identifier” on the effort, because Ohio is a 50/50 state and framing it as a partisan issue would repel GOP voters who might otherwise have supported protecting collective bargaining. The thinking was they would dig in if the thing was tied to Obama and reflexively oppose. That turned out to be true, because there were obviously a lot of crossover voters in this 50/50 state with a 61% final result.
But, OFA ran a petition drive at the same time as the collective bargaining petition drive where we gathered signatures to repeal Ohio’s 2010 (latest version) voter suppression law. Everybody won there, because OFA wanted to repeal the voter suppression law in anticipation of 2012 and re-electing Obama and labor wanted to repeal the voter suppression law in anticipation of 2011 and overturning the union-busting law.
A controversial new Ohio elections law was suspended on Thursday as a coalition of Democrats, voting-rights and labor groups submitted over 300,000 signatures to put the law on the fall 2012 ballot. That means the Nov. 8 election — and probably next year’s presidential election — will be run under the same early-voting laws that benefited Democrats in 2008.
So are we talking about campaign organizing in 2014 or issue organizing?
If we’re talking about issue organizing, I personally might be interested in protecting those parts of the health care law that benefit low wage employees. I liked this description of that part of the law, and I think it’s now clear there’s going to be a coordinated effort to resist implementation by large, low wage employers and their lobbyists, legislators and media personalities:
The debate, unfortunately, got bogged down in a lot of nonsense about death panels and socialism rather than focusing on the brass tacks stuff that matters. Low-income workers—the kind of people likely to be working as servers at Denny’s—really will see huge benefits from the law. And the kind of people who own dozens of chain restaurant franchises really will suffer, at least a bit.
The main issue facing chain restaurant owners is the law’s “employer responsibility” provision. If you’re a small employer with fewer than 25 employees, the Affordable Care Act is extremely generous to you and you’ll get special subsidies to help make an insurance plan for your workers affordable. But if you have over 50 employees, then it’s another matter. If everyone on your payroll already gets group health insurance, you’re in the clear. If they don’t, but they’re all paid enough to buy insurance on the new insurance exchanges without a subsidy, then you’re also in the clear. But if you’re employing low-wage workers who’ll get subsidies for their new insurance plans, then you’re going to get taxed to the tune of $2,000 a worker.
We see a lot of low wage workers come through this law office, and low wage uninsured actually pay a lot for health care. There seems to be some sort of myth floating around that they go to the emergency room or clinic and just wave their hand on the way out and the medical care they received is now categorized “uncompensated care” but that isn’t how it works for them. They’re billed for whatever last-ditch medical care they may be lucky enough to get, and a lot of them work out payments with the provider. If they don’t work out payments with the provider the bills go to collection and if the provider sues and gets a judgment they’re subject to having their wages garnished. There’s plenty of uncompensated care received in this country, that’s true, but low wage workers are also paying plenty for health care right now.
My sense is that these employees will be barraged with negative stories and threats from their employers and media on the terrible things that may happen to them if their employers have to pay 2 grand towards subsidized health insurance. I would consider it a real win if we could even make the people who stand to benefit most from the law aware of the facts so they might support implementing the law as written in states like mine. What might OFA/local people do there?
ACA kicks in for real in 2014. That will help. The Obama Admin and fed agencies will blanket the country with information. The liars will get beat down.
James E. Powell
The administration ought to be doing that blanketing right now. A great big huge campaign: PSAs, mailings, website with explanations, work through unions and other supportive groups, etc.
I don’t see how waiting any longer will help.
According to historical precedent, odds are, the Democrats lose seats in 2014.
Two things – I listened to Dr. Aaron Carroll on a radio show on XM. The topic was business and Obamacare(started from the Fla Dennys idiot.) There was a guy who called in who had a small business who was already providing healthcare coverage and he said he had just found out he was going to get an extra tax deduction because of the law. Small business and their employees need to be educated on the law. BTW I mean small business(2-25 mom and pop places) not some 200 employee business. Sorry, but that is not a small business to me.
Secondly, I think OFA needs to take a page from Karl Rove and come up with some propositions on the ballot in 2014. Every off year election until 2020 needs to have propositions. Don’t ask me what props. I don’t think it should be just LGBT stuff but it does need to be easily sellable mom and apple pie wedge issue stuff.
Plus, Matt shows off his see-no-evil professional faux-naif side with that column – the point of largely announcing “surcharges” for the ACA is to institute normal price increases while trying a desperate Hail Mary to convert independent voters to Republicans before 2014.
^ Matt Yglesias is garbage.
If Obama is at all serious about what he says, I think pushing a constitutional amendment to null out Citizens United would be a great idea.
Don’t give too much credit to Karl Rove on that; the Republicans have been using wedge issue ballot propositions for a long time. And honestly, I think the Democrats need to get over any worries that putting issues on the ballot that favor Democrats is somehow playing dirty. If there’s a problem with them, there’s the possibility of getting some kind of long-term backlash like what the Republicans here in California saw with Prop 187, which turned a whole generation of Latino voters against the Republicans. As long as there isn’t a big risk like that, I think they’re just fine.
As for issues, how about initiatives that are designed to roll back some of the worst Republican overreach in terms of voter suppression and gerrymandering? If they’re framed right, I think those are both potentially winning issues with voters in the short term, and they’re big winners for the Democratic party in the long term. Another possibility that I’m much less certain of would be something to force state governments to set up PPACA insurance exchanges.
Put the legalizing weed propositions on the ballots. That will bring out the younger voters.
No kidding. When I was last in our public, non-profit local hospital, the first thing I had to sign was the three page financial responsibility document. It said that I was responsible for all treatment charges, and that insurance billing was only a courtesy. If I lacked insurance, or my insurer failed to pay, I was liable for the cash price of care, which will definitely be higher than a negotiated insurance reimbursement rate (I could view these rates, 9:00 – 5:00, Monday through Friday, at the business office, which was conveniently located a minimum of five miles from any of the hospital branches). No consideration of payment plans or reduction in cost would be offered if my income was above 133% of the federal poverty level for my household.
I think it’s a good thing that a lot of folks on the left are discussion “How do we repeat 2012 in 2014 so it’s not a repeat of 2010”. Recognizing the problem is the first step. Maybe we don’t have answers yet, but at least we know we’ve got to start working and be prepared to work hard through the 2014 election.
And this site: http://www.enrollamerica.org/ Will be instrumental in getting info out about healthcare reform
@James E. Powell:
The problem with that is that people get confused. It has to be close to the time when an element of the program kicks in. If you explain something that doesn’t start until 2014, people will forget or get angry because it hasn’t started yet. This admin is good at getting out information.
We don’t have to wait until 2014 here in VA, we have elections next year for governor and the state House. And we’ll almost certainly have the appalling Ken Cuccinelli as the Republican nominee for governor. And if you think we have problems with turnout for midterm elections, imagine off-off-year elections like we have here, when there’s no national publicity at all.
I filled out the post-election survey for OFA encouraging them to keep the organization engaged for the midterms and state legislative elections. It’s a hard problem, but we really need to figure out how to get Democrats to turn out for non-presidential elections if we ever want Republicans to actually understand that the country doesn’t support their policies and to look for a new path. (Or continue to not understand and die out. Either one is fine with me.)
Oh, and we also don’t have any ballot proposition or citizen veto capability in VA, so the question of whether to focus on issues or elections is not really a consideration here.
@Roger Moore: I think a “right to vote” proposition could be a good principle to organize around. Since most people don’t know that the right to vote isn’t in the Constitution, that’s a good starting point that a lot of people can rally behind, and then if it’s written such that the right to vote “shall not be restricted,” that could be a good basis for blocking a lot of voter-suppression techniques, in the same way that equal-rights clauses in state constitutions were used to block anti-gay-marriage laws.
@Redshift: Who’s planning on running as a Democrat in the VA Gov race?
@Publius39: I’d heard McAuliffe, but I’m hoping someone else steps up here. No idea who that would be though.
I know everyone’s still exhausted (happily so) from 2012, but Dems really can’t afford to sleepwalk towards 2014. There’s the usual off-year effect favoring older, whiter voters; there’s the off-year anti-incumbent effect; and there’s also a tendency for presidents’ incumbent parties to do badly in their sixth year. Bush Jr and Reagan lost one or both houses in their sixth year; Ford (following Nixon) of course got shellacked, but there was an extra factor called Watergate at play; Clinton managed to pick up seats, mainly because people were so appalled at the impeachment follies. But generally, by year 6, voters start to get bored of the incumbent and the incumbent party risks sliding towards hubris and/or internecine warfare.
If that’s not bad enough, look at the Senate lineup for 2014: Dems are defending seats in NC, AK, AR, LA, WV, MT. in some cases Dems have popular incumbents, but some of these guys will retire and none of the races will be picnics. It will take a lot of Mourdocks, Akins, Donnellys and O’Donnells for Dems to hold onto the Senate in 2014.
Some ballot propositions, as a few commenters have suggested, could help. But really it will come down to organization, phone calls, knocking on doors, making clear to people what’s at stake.
I read this diary earlier at DKos and thought it had good suggestions and information for targeting close races for congress. The same could be done for the senate and for state government offices up for election in coming years and a chart created to show where to utilize money and people most effectively.
Actually, the right to vote is in the Constitution. The 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendments all contain provisions to protect voting rights, and they all explicitly allow Congress to protect those rights legislatively. If there’s a problem, it’s that Congress and the courts have been poor about enforcing those voting rights.
@Publius39: Terry McAuliffe. I’m not particularly happy about that, but at least he seems to have learned a few things since he jumped into the primary for the governor’s race four years ago. At the time, he was basically a carpetbagger with money and connections (he had lived in the VA suburbs because he worked in DC, but had never made any effort to make connections with Virginia Democrats that I know of.) Since then, he’s put in quite a bit of effort in Virginia elections; supporting candidates, doing fundraisers, getting other national Democrats to do fundraisers, etc.
So basically we’re going to have a governor’s race between Cuccinelli, who sane people hate and the religious right and the teabaggers love, and McAuliffe, who some people like but most are lukewarm about. It’s not the best situation, but it’s not bad. Early polling apparently has McAuliffe ahead of Cuccinelli, but I don’t know how much that’s worth.
I think the starting point for 2014 organizing should be assuming that the entire OFA 2012 machine is going to fall apart and disperse, that no organization will attempt to take its place, and that 2014 will be a desert wasteland of GOTV & voter contact activity. Because that is probably what will happen.
A couple of points:
1) On the federal level, I believe, we only have elections for federal legislative offices — I don’t remember ever seeing a referendum or proposition or the like. States and municipalities use those direct legislation mechanisms. So any thing we want President Obama to push has to go to the Congress. Otherwise, you have to get the idea acted on by your Congresscritter.
2) The GOTV effort, strategy, tactics and mechanisms are probably the property of the presidential election committee and not the National Democratic Party. We would have to find a way to get people at the state and local levels trained and given the facilities to use the materials.
3) I think that sometimes we forget that the Democratic Party is actuality two groups — state/local clubs and the national/federal level. Many of the intergroup coalitions overlap and intersect, but sometimes they don’t. Democrats don’t have the cohesion and discipline that the Republicans have had on the message and members actions. (I’m not sure we ever did.)
@Roger Moore: It’s still not in the Constitution in the same was as the Bill of Rights. There’s a big difference between saying that Congress is allowed to protect a right and saying that Congress (and the states) aren’t allowed to infringe upon it.
I agree that we should also push Congress to be more aggressive in protecting voting rights, but telling people that their right to vote is not guaranteed by the Constitution and is not in the Bill of Rights is, I think, a good way to wake them up to the fact that those rights need protection.
Dems need a pro gay marriage initiative in every state that’s polling no worse than 45% in favor (the other 5% will arrive over 2 years) in 2014. CA turnout in 2012 was 25% below 2008s Prop 8 fight. Obama would have picked up nearly 1 million more votes with 2008s turnout.
Dems also need to get vote reform initiatives in every state – nonpartisan panels for drawing districts like CA has, requirements on the upper of polling places and voting setups per registered voter, registration reforms, and so on.
Turnout always favors Democrats in the end, so put in pro-democracy initiatives and let the chips fall. The latter would be a great use for OFA, as well.
But those amendments say both things. They say that the right to vote shall not be abridged and they explicitly give Congress the power to protect the right. The 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendments are pretty much cookie cutter amendments. They all say that the right of citizens to vote shall not be abridged by the United States or any State on account of X and that Congress shall have the power to enforce through appropriate legislation. The only voting rights amendment that doesn’t say things that way is the 14th, which spells out a specific penalty for denying the vote to a fraction of the population.
By now we should all have realized that PBO plays the long game really well and likes to win. A Republican House may largely tie his hands for the next couple of years. His real opportunity to make significant changes would be his last two years with Democrats firmly in control of both houses.
Why should we expect PBO to sit by and let his well-developed organization decay?
I would expect the discussion of how to win 2014 started well before this last election.
@JustAnotherBob: He has to interact with 50 Democratic state organizations, organizations which will likely want to preserve their own status quo. Also, will he have the time to work with 50 organizations? Who will foot the bills for any new committees developed to work with the state organizations?
It’s a big late now, since the GOP House won’t pass any meaningful changes to the ACA, but these hard thresholds are really bad policy. Instead of 25 or more, we should use math like in the tax code, or even use our tremendous computing power to do some math: e.g., penalty = X * (# of employees), something that would prevent people from hitting big penalties for hiring that 26th worker.
Relatedly, over at Daily Kos there was a recommended diary earlier today about the ACA coverage cliff, wherein your subsidy can completely disappear if you make just $1 too much. Another case where there should be marginal subsidies.
I want to see a proposition in every state that allows them to put redistricting in the hands of a non-partisan citizen committee. Despite moans and groans from both parties, we did it here in California. The result? We flipped 5 congressional seats and got super majorities in both state houses. And BTW, the redistricting should take place in 2015, if it was good enough for Texas, it should be good enough for the rest of us.
@Roger Moore: For some reason, this an especially popular chestnut amoungst progs. We don’t have the right to vote! Then WTF is the Constitution protecting? I gave up on trying to reason with them.
@PurpleGirl: PBO had no trouble raising a lot of money for his run. I suspect the same group of people would be willing to kick in again to help secure Congress. I know that I would.
And not all 50 states. Pick out the races where there is a better than 50%/something chance of winning and concentrate.
Try to have a decent candidate in place for every single race in the event that the Republican throws a shoe rounding the last turn. But don’t spend large amounts of money and energy on those races.
It’s funny, because it was real popular in law school among conservatives. All of a sudden I’m seeing it again.
It seems odd because it’s not just wrong, it’s completely backward. Voting rights have been revisited more times than just about any other topic in the Constitution.
Just for fun…
Family of four, forty year old “main breadwinner” making $93,699 per year gets a $3,229 assist. If their income goes to $93,700 per year then no assist.
I’m not sure this “cliff” will be that big a deal. One dollar annual raises are not very common. A four percent bump more than smooths out that small loss.
Rachel says it’s obvious what that ballot measure should be. She’s been repeating herself on this for years now.
“If you had a secret decoder ring for democratic electoral success, the minimum wage is what your ring decodes to. Whenever minimum wage is on the ballot, it blows up. In 2006, minimum wage initiative passed in Nevada by 38 points. Minimum measure in Arizona passed by 32 points. Two years earlier one passed in Florida by 44 points. Montana, Montana! Democratic senator Jon Tester of Montana elected in 2006, when was that minimum wage ballot initiative ballot wage on the ballot? 2006. This is the code for Democrats. When minimum wage is an issue, not only does it win, Democrats win alongside issue, too. Quoting Congressional Quarterly, “In 2006, voter motivation and reported interest in the election was disproportionately high among democratic-based voters, especially where minimum wage initiatives were in play.”
To return to the topic of keeping voters engaged, why not show or tell them about other online news sources that will help inform them? I assume everyone agrees the mainstream media is well nigh useless-why not direct them to the variety of places that we get information from? Our goal is to have an informed electorate. I make the rounds of here, crooks and liars, Krugman, Benen over at Maddows blog, ThinkProgress etc. Kay said the one thing folks were most hungry for was information they could trust. Give them the resources to start finding out. Once they are engaged and fed meaty stories, I find it hard to believe they would go back to the fluff of evening news.
Marijuana decriminalization and/or recreational marijuana would be a great proposition. I have known quite a few families of people caught up in minor drug stuff. I think you would get increased voter turnout. I like the redistricting prop, I just am not sure if the average American understands what redistricting even is. Voting reforms would be great. Not sure if it would be a voter turnout tool and the Repubs would come up with a competing prop and confuse voters. I think OFA should also continue young voter and especially Hispanic voter registration. Even more so, Hispanics in Texas. OFA has the statistics now, just aim VR in the right districts to speed up Texas going blue.
And whoever said OFA is going to die after 2012. No way. First, I don’t think Obama is that stupid, the House may not be beatable in 2014 but the Senate is still going to be needed to be defended if he’s going to do anything in his last two years. Secondly, if Obama is stupid, then one of the Dems who wants to run in 2016(Biden,Clinton?) will maintain it – maybe thru the DNC or something.
Around a week after the election, OFA sent out a survey. Half of it was asking “How did we do?” and the other half was “Where should we go from here?” — a very encouraging sign. Maybe they realized the 2009-10 dismantling of OFA was a mistake.
I filled it out and my suggestion was to take a look at state legislature races. I saw the Kochs, through Americans for Prosperity, buy the legislature in my state (Kansas) for very little money. I’d like to see OFA, or some other Democratic organization, identify the states where there’s a reasonable chance of flipping the legislature and sending money and organizational help to the local candidates.
This is probably the best chance of flipping the House, ensuring fair elections in the future, and stopping the loss of reproductive freedoms since the state legislatures have been on the front line of this issue. I think this is definitely the biggest potential bang per dollar spent since most state legislature races are run on very little money.
Yeah, we did a minimum wage hike in Ohio. It was a labor initiative. Non-partisan, is how they sold it. Very effective.
@mai naem: Disagree on this. Didn’t work in California – all kinds of morons I knew who smoked lots of pot said things like “what will we tell the children?” And a friend of mine said he didn’t want pot tourists coming here – would threaten his connection.
california hasn’t finished counting its ballots yet. turnout in 2008 was 79%. turnout in 2012, when you add in the million provisional votes still left to count, comes out to about 73%. so there was a dropoff in turnout, but nowhere near 25%. i agree that turnout probably would have been up if there had been another legalization prop on the ballot this year, though.
if nothing else (and there is ‘objectively’ plenty else) the legacy of the Community Orginizer in Chief should be the political infastructure to kick some fuckin’ ass on a local level. Get your heads in the game and use the mid terms to hand all that corporate cash a whoopass upside it’s head.
@Redshift: Well, hopefully someone will step up and take out the Cooch. I heard some scuttlebutt that Mark Warner was thinking about getting into the race, and while that’s a farshot, I wouldn’t be opposed to it considering his inclinations to cut the safety net for some GOP scraps. One of the big downsides to that would be that his seat may be taken by Allen. IDK, from what you guys are saying, the bench isn’t very deep in Virginia right now because of its recent electoral shift in 2008. The Dems need to set up strong, permanent inroads in VA, post haste.
Somewhat OT, except that die Romneyschadenfreude is always in season:
David Wasserman’s National Popular Vote Tracker shows that Romney’s total, rounded appropriately, is now at 47 percent of the popular vote.
Perhaps some checking to see who turned out to vote and then some follow-up knocking on doors and saying “Thank you for voting.” Every cycle I hear some pundit recount the Tip O’Neill chestnut about Mrs. O’Brien: “Everyone likes to be asked [for their vote].” People also like to know you appreciate the fact they’ve done you a kindness.
And then asking some follow-up questions: what will motivate them to vote in ’14; do they want to get involved or volunteer in the ’14 GOTV effort; and maybe more importantly do they want to run at the local level (school board, dog-catcher, selectmen, superintendent of sewers, other town muckety-muck?) One thing about the Rethugs: they have a big pool to draw from with all their local farm teams. We would do well to learn from their successes in that regard.
Warner’s ruled it out:
“Maybe they realized the 2009-10 dismantling of OFA was a mistake.”
One can hope – the direction OFA took after the 2007-2008 grassroots effort was one of the worst acts of political malpractice I’ve ever witnessed. We’re already in a situation where we should have an issue-oriented campaign blanketing the country resisting the “entitlement reform” Big Lie rhetoric educating grassroots with some simple common-sense truths about Medicare and Social Security. But OFA isn’t capable of that – and is composed entirely of “leaders” and strategists who take their cues from the administration and haven’t shown even the most modest commitment to effective independent organizing around issues. IMHO OFA has proven itself to have zero capability to move in the direction of “social movement.” Successful issues organizing can’t be bound to the White House. Not to take away from the organization as an effective electoral vehicle, but when we’re talking about “Obama” in 2012, we’re talking about the President of the United States, not a “community organizer.” We’ve got to take responsibility for pushing the envelope around issues and not expect the President’s campaign organization to become something it likely is impossible to transform itself into. The electoral infrastructure and strategies have proven themselves and can be replicated again. But I think after the dismal experience of 2009-10, it’s borderline delusional to expect OFA to lead on any issues that are worth organizing around with any clarity or aggressive strategy.
I think the suggestion of looking at state legislatures is probably more appropriate to the OFA that actually exists than expecting OFA to organize on the basis of issues as prep for 2014.
Get initiatives on as many state ballots as possible that motivate young voters to turn out. Gay marriage and relaxation of marijuana laws are two examples. Raising the minimum wage is another.
And tell the administration to stop its war on states that have relaxed marijuana laws or blessed medical marijuana.
Before the Obots start to applaud like trained seals, you’d better wait for 2013 to see what comes of the big Democratic victory in 2012 before you ask whether you want to replicate it again.
If Obama and the Democrats do as I expect, 2013 will witness:
 Vastly expanded military spending to support yet more pointless endless unwinnable foreign wars
 Bipartisan cuts in social security and medicare in the phony name of a so-called “great bargain”
 Savage new bipartisan restrictions on basic civil rights, including the introduction of internal passports, a nationwide curfew, new traffic roadblock sweeps conducted by the TSA and the DHS in which motorists get stopped and frisked and their cars searched for no reason
 Even more “targeted killings” of American citizens without charges or even accusing them of having committed a crime
 Much more brutal restrictions on internet usage and internet free speech, including a vast expansion of warrantless illegal seizures of websites without legal process (including websites like the ACLU, Occupy, and other harmless non-violent political dissenters) and immensely expanded persecution of dissenters and whistleblowers like Julian Assange
 A much more vicious bipartisan crackdown on non-violent political dissent, including the use of military weaponry by paramilitary police against people protesting for a fair wage, the right to start unions, etc.
In short, the great “liberal victory” of 2012 is likely to produce the social and economic policies advocated by Mitt Romney. In that event, you had all better worry about whether you want “to replicate that” in 2014.