About the California Away Team

The California Away Team is an ongoing effort to help Get Out The Vote for Democrats, funded by volunteers and money from safely blue parts of California to places in or near California that are less blue. Our core strength is canvassing because we know that fixing this country comes from connecting with voters passionately, one to one.

2020 Election Cycle Team

Project lead / fundraising: Shabbir Safdar / Eugene Salazar

Graphics / illustration: Cheryl McKinney

Trainer trainers: Ellen Debach Riley, Susana Tupper

El Dorado County team lead: Frank Porter, Joel Wiley

Calaveras County team lead: Don Stump

Social media promotion / Email newsletter editor: Britt Davies

Nationbuilder / Wordpress admin: Derrick Pallas


The California Away Team started in 2008 when Shabbir joined hundreds of other Californians traveling to Washoe County Nevada to help the Obama campaign.  When he came back, he and Sarah Imber Safdar made a personal commitment to keep volunteering and convince others to do so too.

In 2012 the team numbered ten and went to Reno, NV and campaigned for Obama.  We won Washoe County for the Democrats by a little under 7,000 votes, and the state for Obama.  I posted our stories in a blog to dailykos.

In 2016 we adopted Reno, NV and CA-07 (Rep. Ami Bera - D).  We had many successes which you can read about in our summary, "What the fuck did we accomplish?"  Obviously, we didn't win the White House, but we helped secure a blue Congressional seat (CA-07), flipped a NV state assembly seat from red to blue, and kept Harry Reid's US Senate seat in Democratic hands.

In 2018 we conducted a clever Get Out The Vote campaign using voter pledge cards. This all volunteer effort was the first time a California Away Team lead the entire GOTV project from start to finish. Our success in canvassing from previous years meant that understood exactly how to setup the canvassing program to appeal to people who have never canvassed before. Our project created many new experienced canvassers out of people who were scared of canvassing before. Many of these volunteers went on to volunteer with candidate campaigns, but came back attracted by the well-organized and clear goals of the California Away Team's GOTV project. At the end of the 2018 cycle, we measured the results carefully and identified a lift in voter rates across two different Congressional districts that include both urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods.

Learn more about how we've leveraged what we've learned to create our 2020 strategy and how we're planning to grow even larger and motivate even more voters in the 2020 cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are you funded?  Where do you get your money?  

The Away Team is a volunteer group.  Historically volunteers pay for their own gas, hotel rooms, etc.  During the 2018 cycle, we registered as a Political Action Committee with the Federal Election Commission. For the 2020 cycle, the group will not be touching any funds directly, though we still will ask volunteers to make donations to our partners to allay their costs.

There are no actual employees.

How old are you?  How many election cycles have you been organizing?  How many people are you?  How many chapters do you have?  Are you affiliated with swingleft?  Flippable?  Local Democratic party committees?

The California Away Team has been organizing since 2008, when we organized a team of 1!  Then 15 in 2012 and in the 2016 cycle we took 40 volunteers to Reno and CA-07.  2018's midterm elections counted hundreds of volunteers. The 2020 cycle will certainly surpass our totals again.

How do you handle whom to volunteer for before the primaries are over and a Democratic nominee has won?

We don't play favorites with candidates before a primary has been won.  Even in the 2020 cycle when we are partnering with County Democratic party committees, our partnership agreement requires that we stay neutral until primary winners have been declared. Our 2020 cycle project will involve volunteering for joint projects with local county Democratic party committees that are implicitly helping the primary winners.

Can you tell me more about how you intend to partner with county Democratic party committees in the 2020 election cycle?

To learn more, see our page with an initial design of a partner agreement.