There was discussion on Balloon Juice earlier this week of how/why the Republican vote was as high as it was this year, and there was some speculation about whether less in-person contact because of COVID might have played a pivotal role, since Republicans registered a surprisingly high number of new voters and had a much higher turnout than expected. There was talk of whether we should be organizing all the time, not just for elections.
We talked of the amazing organizing by Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight, and also mentioned some of the other groups besides Fair Fight that helped deliver the victory in Georgia. The promised post on those Georgia groups will be later this week.
✨ Tonight I thought we could talk about some other organizing heroes – this time in Wisconsin!
It seems like months ago, but it was only 3 weeks ago that we had this Balloon Juice post: Wisconsin: Tireless, Persistent, Tenacious, Dogged, Determined Efforts To Bring It Home. Now for some follow-up.
Kudos to Omnes for his faith in Wisconsin this year.
We all know about the amazing job the Wisconsin Dems and Ben Wikler did. Now let’s look at Milwaukee, which played a pivotal role, boosted by BLOC, Souls to the Polls, and Voces de la Frontera Action.
In Milwaukee, an inner-city group tackles a key Democratic need: Turning out black voters (includes video)
Thirteen months before the next presidential election, national Democratic leaders are once again talking about black voter turnout. But in battleground states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan — which all flipped to vote for Trump after decades of backing the Democratic presidential nominee — the task of doing something about it has often fallen on local activists such as Lang.
With the help of local lawmakers and union organizers, Lang launched Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) in November 2017 to focus on voters in Milwaukee’s most impoverished neighborhoods, places where paid canvassers for campaigns often don’t go because they deem it too dangerous or because many residents, with criminal records, are not eligible to vote. Persuading those who are eligible to participate in elections often requires addressing decades of neglect.
Read the whole thing when you get a chance. We have a lot to learn!
VidaLoca, an activist from Milwaukee and a volunteer with Voces de la Frontera Action was kind enough to send me an inspirational article about their role in the Wisconsin win. But first – some of the faces that helped bring in the win for all of us.
In Wisconsin, Latinx & Multiracial Voters Play Crucial Role in Delivering Biden/Harris Win
A lot of the article is worth quoting, but I don’t want to make this too long, so I’ll include some snippets and hope you read the whole thing, either now or later. From their press release (bolding mine):
MILWAUKEE – Voces de la Frontera Action (VDLFA) is proud to have galvanized a strong voting network of nearly 20,000, including new and infrequent Latinx and multiracial youth voters, to help deliver Wisconsin for the Biden/Harris ticket, and seven state Assembly and state Senate candidates. This is a historic win that centers around unity and cooperation instead of division and hatred.
The multi-prong grassroots voter outreach of VDLFA demonstrates the importance of year-round and relational organizing.
Wisconsin experienced an impressive turnout of * 74% of Latinx voters – and 77% voted for Joe Biden. That’s 135,000 people. *(preliminary numbers; actual numbers may not be that high, but still an impressive turnout)
VDFLA contacted more than 100,000 Latinx voters, and close to 60,000 voters who had either never voted or had only voted a few times in the last three elections.
- Phone calls and texting : Over 765,000 calls to more than 200,000 potential voters were made. The electoral team had more than 26,000 conversations with potential voters.
- Door-to-door canvassing: Electoral team knocked on over 56,000 doors during more than 780 canvassing shifts in 4 cities across the state, targeting heavily Latinx wards.
- Media campaign: VDLFA along with its national partners, Win Justice and People for the American Way (PFAW) , invested more than $800,000 in both English-and-Spanish -language television, radio and digital ads, in Milwaukee & Racine Counties, Brown County, Dane County, and outreach targeting rural areas of Walworth County, Manitowoc County, and Trempealeau County.
The key takeaway from VDLFA’s electoral organizing work is that mobilizing people of color voters who are not easily targeted by a traditional voter model requires starting early and building from grassroots relational organizing based in community relationships. Short-term transactional voter-mobilization is not an effective model and rooted permanence in the community matters.
VidaLoca plans to be in the comments, so I hope she will speak to their experiences organizing this year, to this map, to how segregated Milwauke is (apparently the most segregated city in the country) and how that impacts organizing, and, well, probably everything!
Well done, Wisconsin organizers!
That’s a hell of a population map. Is there a way to get ones for other counties?
Ben Wikler has really impressed me in the last couple of months. Had never heard of him until WisDems did that wonderful The Princess Bride reunion table-read. As a result of donating to that, of course, I’ve been on their emailing list, and have sent a little extra money their way.
Wikler is worth keeping an eye on. I think he has a consequential future in the Democratic Party if he wants it, whether behind the scenes or as candidate/elected official.
Voces is a wonderful organization.
As Wisconsin is almost always a close election, here’s hoping this can be built on for 2022.
I made it myself, modifying code
that I found here.
@Benw: Not sure where you can find other counties, but the bulk of them would be predominantly blue.
OT Bill Barr has a Jewish- German father and an Irish- American mother and he is wandering around playing “Scotland the Brave ” on bagpipes.
Seriously. talk about cultural misappropriation.
@SiubhanDuinne: Ben Wikler is amazing but he’s (thankfully) focused on helping me/us fire Sen Johnson in 2 years.
And never was there a worthier cause. I expect he’ll ask me to donate to the cause. I’ll be glad to.
Is everyone exhausted, or is there just not much enthusiasm for the post topic?
That is real grassroots organizing! I’m in awe of their dedication and energy.
It’s old-fashioned politicking, too: face to face as much as possible. Being physically in the community, meeting people, talking to them about their concerns.
I hope we see more of that, ramping up to 2022 – epidemic and/or vaccines permitting.
Top flight. Thank you.
@WaterGirl: Exhausted, I think. Too much happening in too short a time.
The topic is hugely important, though.
@CaseyL: I think sometimes the big groups with name recognition get all the credit, but their work is often built on years of work by smaller organizations in the trenches.
I guess I should be prepared for a similar response later this week when I talk about the groups in Georgia that have been working for 10 years to set the stage for what happened.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Stacey Abrams is amazing and talented and all that. Just trying to shine a spotlight on some of the less well-known groups.
I have nothing to add as far as a comment goes, but this is great info. Thanks for it!
Since it’s an open thread:
Angela Merkel gives a speech on the 98th anniversary of Kristalnacht, the 31st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and saying how much she looks forward to working with President Joe Biden and to meeting Vice President Kamala Harris:
A friend just sent me this video. Its a year old, but the timing right now is just perfect. Altered lyrics to New York, New York.
Start spreading the news…
Trump is leaving today
Black women and other POC literally saved America. Again.
Give them their props.
Talking about organizing – Biden’s lead is now larger in Georgia than it is in Arizona. Stacey Abrams > CIndy McCain in terms of getting SHIT done in the home state.
@WaterGirl: I signed up with Fair Fight to text in Georgia this weekend. It is hard to find slots because they have so many volunteers. Yes, we are tired, but the work goes on.
@gwangung: Pretty much.
@PsiFighter37: A big part of that is because Stacey Abrams is smart as a whip and works her ass off, and Cindy McCain gave one recorded speech. :-)
@CaseyL: I like the discussion of relational organizing. Biden was heavily pushing that the last few weeks, getting supporters to contact friends and family with their VoteJoe app. It was quite an interesting tool. In GOTV conversations, I always told people that turned down a volunteer request, that the most important thing they could do was to get their friends and family to vote. It is true.
@planetjanet: Good for you! Thanks so much for doing that. Do you happen to have a link for the texting, or any other volunteer activities? If so, I would like to add them to the Georgia threads.
@WaterGirl: Here are a few:
Info about the GA runoffs:Slack workspace for Warnock:
https://join.slack.com/t/winwithwarnock/shared_invite/zt-g9ewqh1g-xw~VOaPV3hBpSk4XNlb9dAVolunteer at FairFight:
Sign up for phone banking with Jon Ossoff: mobilize.us/electjon/event/362688/Sign up for phone banking with Rev. Raphael Warnock: mobilize.us/mobilize/event/362553/
@WaterGirl: Here are a few:
Info about the GA runoffs:
Slack workspace for Warnock:
Volunteer at FairFight:
I have to work and for me at geezer years old, work is actually work, damn it! Exhausted is not quite it, just tired, and I find that tired and pissed off as much as I have been for the last 4 yrs really, really takes it out of me. I don’t have the mental where with all to keep up, work, live and as for actual laughing, I can’t remember more than 2 or 3 times that I have in those last 4 yrs.
I had a thought today, I wonder what all those conservative racist assholes thought they were going to get out of shitforbrains? OK I can see that they didn’t/don’t understand that he’s as ignorant as a turnip, possibly because a lot of them aren’t any smarter, but really what is it that they think they were going to lose with Clinton, or gain with shitforbrains? Every person of color was going to be rounded up and shot? How was that going to make their life better? Do they just hate/are so racist that actual gain doesn’t matter? How many of them have healthcare from that horrible black man that they despise? What is it that they can’t see that every republican in my lifetime other than Eisenhower made their lives worse and every democrat save LBJ – BTW fuck LBJ – made them at least better and most made them far better off? I know it’s the lying and the stupid and the racism, and faux news, but is that all it takes, 40 yrs of lying sacks of shit that they voted for? I mean 70 million people voted for shitforbrains, who has just about fucked this country as far as it can go and still exist, what in the ever loving fuck is wrong? We have to know, to understand, if we have any chance of fixing this crap.
@WaterGirl: Way too exhausted to absorb all this now. I’d like a post talking about how the tactics used in Wisconsin could be used in other states. Wisconsin did well. Georgia did well. Let’s do what they did.
That is great! Thank you.
@Ruckus: You mentioned not being able to remember laughing. That video had me laughing out loud and I watched a half dozen times.
@planetjanet: Thank you!
Your comments surely went into moderation because of more than 7 links.
J R in WV
I’m with you and Raven on Fuck LBJ, although I was rousted into the military by Nixon’s thugs… but we need to admit that outside his dirty little war, LBJ also passed the Civil Rights law, and lots of other acts to boost the lives of middle-class and working class folks.
I want to shout out a wonderful young man from Milwaukee. I don’t really remember how I came across him, but Jacob Malinowski is a guy in his 20s who ran against an entrenched, crappy old Republican in Greendale. Jacob had previously served on his town’s school board. He also went to Yale, and came back home to Milwaukee afterwards.
He did a great job of just being a relatable guy from a suburb I’d never heard of and who had youthful energy to take on a legislative district that Dems had apparently just ignored for years.
Now, before we go too far, I’ll say Jacob lost. But I think he’s a hero because running in these races matters, and I am confident he turned out Dem voters in the 82nd who might have otherwise stayed home. I’ll quote his farewell/thank you email at a bit of length. It was an honor to have been one of his repeat donors in this race.
Thank you, Wisconsin??
I merely had faith, donated money, and made some calls. VidaLoca and the people like her did all the heavy lifting.
@WaterGirl: I think we are supposed to be panicking in the other threads.
VDLFA did an unbelievable amount of work, so much of it one-on-one and, most remarkably, face-to-face despite the pandemic! This effort is what the country needs—real commitment to being involved citizens. I’m so grateful!
@dm: Nice speech. P.S. It’s the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, not the 98th.
This is a good topic and seems to me how politics is supposed to work. Good work Wisconsin. These are what actual populists are, not that putrid pile of corruption liar in chief.
THANK YOU ALL!
Someone explain that this is the base to all those people on twitter screaming “Embrace the Base” and showing largely not POC people.
@Omnes Omnibus: Dammit. I didn’t get the memo. Again.