EveryDistrict is a grassroots organization dedicated to flipping state legislatures from RED to BLUE.
We provide candidates with early data and fundraising support and connect grassroots donors around the country to competitive down ballot campaigns in battleground states.
Since 2017, EveryDistrict has invested over $3 million in over 200 legislative campaigns in 12 battleground states, helping to flip dozens of districts from red to blue. But Democrats still have a long way to go in rebuilding power in the states – the GOP still controls over 60% of legislative chambers. That’s why in 2022, we’re not just helping campaigns fundraise, we’re changing how campaigns are run.
In 2017, EveryDistrict was founded with the idea that the big missing piece was a strategic fundraising strategy. If we could help donors identify the districts that we needed to flip to win majorities, and make it easy for those donors to give to Democratic candidates running in those districts, we could flip state legislatures blue.
Fixing the money piece was a success – Democrats aren’t getting massively outraised at the state level anymore.
But what we learned over the past five years was that money alone won’t create legislative majorities. Despite tens of millions of dollars in unprecedented investments in flipping state legislative chambers blue, Democrats only now control 18 State Senates and 18 State Houses. In key battleground states, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona, Republicans are still in full control of the legislature.
Why have Democrats made so little progress?
There has been a strategic failure – Democrats have failed to implement strategies to overcome the geographic challenges of the state legislative map.
The districts that Democrats need to win to gain majorities in purple states are generally whiter than the country at-large, and tend to either have a large proportion of non-college white voters, who are slipping away from us, or college-educated white voters, who have moved our direction at the top of the ticket but not consistently at the state level. And yet, in the hundreds of competitive districts where we’ve supported candidates, Democrats have generally run campaigns that are indistinguishable from those any Democrat would run in any moderately competitive district anywhere.
How do we fix Democrats’ strategic deficit?
It starts with recognizing that it is a problem. This is a problem we’ve been talking about since the 2018 election. But despite the warning signs in 2018 and 2019, and the disappointment of 2020, so far we have seen scant evidence that most stakeholders in the state legislative space are interested in making big changes.
So, here’s ours. In 2022, we’re throwing the old playbook out the window and building a new one.
Moving forward, EveryDistrict will be investing in campaigns that show they are willing to take bold, district-informed steps to win in the places Democrats have failed to make gains in 2018 and 2020.
What do those new strategies look like?
Let’s start with what is wrong with the average campaign’s approach to the electorate. Most state campaigns spend an inordinate amount of time contacting voters who are highly likely to vote for Democrats, either through field activities or media. In an age of more advanced political data, we believe that a focus on repeated, deep communication with the finite set of persuadable and turnout-able voters is the future. That means using techniques like deep listening, persuasion canvassing, and smart, clever, and engaging digital strategies to understand and positively engage with these voters.
This rethinking is key for winning in the places where Republicans have been able to hold onto a 2-5 point edge even when Democrats have run professional campaigns using the old techniques. And it’s those places where majorities will be made.
Only 29 districts separate Democrats from legislative majorities in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. At most 100,000 voters total will determine whether Democrats come out ahead. Those three states will form the cornerstone of our 2022 strategy.