On a day when President Obama announced his re-election campaign, it's worth noting that the community organizer strategy his campaign implemented is key to what's happening here in Wisconsin. We were a swing state in 2008, so Obama for America organized a lot of neighborhood teams in Wisconsin, many of which now work with Organizing for America on national issues and use the same skills to organize on their own on state and local races and issues.
This is a closing GOTV e-mail that went out Sunday to volunteers in my OFA-affiliated group, the Madtown O's (O is for Obama or Organizers, take your pick) on the west side of Madison. Keep in mind that the note doesn't mention the thousands of volunteer signups and voter contacts that the team did during the rallies at the Capitol. This is all about what came after -- organizing for the critical election to elect JoAnne Kloppenburg to the Supreme Court.
This is probably our final update before the Tuesday election. It's a quick review of what we've accomplished together, then a list opportunities for GOTV work tomorrow and Tuesday, and finally a note about Election Night parties and post-election work coming up.
What we've accomplished.
The totals are quite stunning. Since mid-February, at our phone banks and via individual calling, we've made more than 10,000 calls around the state. Just for comparison, the Kloppenburg campaign set an initial goal of 80,000 calls for everyone in the state. Our neighborhood group made an eighth of that just by ourselves! (Note that the campaign, thankfully, had a strong response and raised its goal to at least 160,000.)
On the ground here in Madison, we knocked on more than 15,000 doors. We didn't keep track of all the voter contacts, but anecdotally we saw folks at home about 30 percent of the time, so that would be 4,000-5,000 face-to-face voter contacts. If you're keeping track of the geography (see attached ward map), we covered parts of Fitchburg and the Town of Madison, plus these wards in Madison (bold indicates 2 or more passes): 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 57, 59, 61, 63, 64, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 75, 76, 84, 85, 86 and 96.
These are big numbers. Early on we raised awareness of the connection between the Supreme Court race and Walker's misdeeds at the Capitol. That work helped create a remarkable groundswell in Dane County and around the state. By the final weekend we were still finding some folks who needed education on the election, but most of our voters are fired up.
O's volunteers also contributed to the ProgressWorks PAC, which has provided canvassers with more than 50,000 lit pieces and door hangers, and is running ads in both UW student newspapers.
In addition to all the voter outreach, we collected dozens of volunteer signups. These will be critical going forward as we work on recalls, Walker's legislative agenda and future elections. In particular, names from South Side wards will be very helpful as efforts get under way to form an organizing team there.
Opportunities Monday and Tuesday.
We have pretty much saturated our turf. But other areas around the state and even here in Madison still need work.
Phone banks. If you can make phone calls, that is still very helpful. Go to www.kloppenburgforjustice.com and sign up to get phone numbers via the Internet. Or, if you can make 50 or more calls, I can send you a script and list in PDF form; just hit reply. (Kudos to Craig WXXXX, who has made hundreds of calls this way in the last month.)
Canvasses and lit drops. If you can get out Monday and/or Tuesday to hit some more doors, you can work with the Young Progressives campus group to activate UW students, who traditionally sit out Supreme Court elections. The schedule:
Canvasses: 2-5 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Meet at Student Activities Center in the new University Square Building (the block between University, Johnson, Lake and East Campus Mall).
Lit drops: 9 p.m. at Lutheran Campus Center (University and Mills), and 11 p.m. at Lakefront on Langdon in Memorial Union.
Canvasses: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Lutheran Campus Center; 2 p.m.-5 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Student Activities Center.
Recall signatures. Polling places in relevant Senate districts offer great opportunities to collect recall signatures. I am planning to go to the north side of Milwaukee Tuesday morning to collect Alberta Darling recall signatures. If you'd like to join me, hit reply or call me at 608-XXX-XXXX.
This election is just the start of taking back Wisconsin. O's organizers may take a short breather, but we'll be back soon with plenty of opportunities to engage on the Walker budget, recall elections and probably some federal issues (remember the federal government?) as well.
Thanks again for all your work this season,
For the Madtown O's
This really is what democracy looks like. And it may be President Obama's most important legacy. Moveon and DFA are fine as online fundraisers and organizers of letter writing, but they have no boots on the ground. Unions do, but they are under pressure everywhere and almost powerless many places. Even where they are powerful, too often they have looked after their own interests and not those of the whole public. And in Madison, we have long had politically active individuals, but they had little organization nor critical access to voter lists that OFA can provide.
OFA-related groups are not the answer to everything, but where robust they are the closest thing we have to a true progressive movement that cares about labor, environment, health care, social justice and economic fairness for all. They have training in how to organize, and access to voter lists. They are your neighbors.
Note that everything cited in that note was done by volunteers with no direction from DC or even the Kloppenburg campaign, which took public funding and didn't even print canvass literature. It was accomplished by citizens who got together in 2008, took up the OFA model and made it work
So it makes me wince when people complain that Obama hasn't engaged enough in the Wisconsin fight. For him to show up in person would only bring new allies flocking to Walker. But in a way he's here with us, knocking on doors and making calls.
Finally, thanks to all the Kossacks who've been supporting us in Wisconsin with donations and phone banking. And thanks to Scott Walker for showing modern Republicanism for what it is, and bringing us all together.