Innovative Get Out The Vote (GOTV) program raised voting rates in 2018 general election

Innovative Get Out The Vote (GOTV) program raised voting rates in 2018 general election

Raises average voting rates for midterm skipping Democrats by 7%-9% vs untouched population

January 25, 2019, San Francisco, California -- The California Away Team (CAT) treasurer Shabbir Imber Safdar announced results today from its direct voter contact GOTV program conducted during the 2018 midterm election cycle in CA-04 (Tom McClintock-R) and CA-07 (Ami Bera-D).

The CAT GOTV program targets midterm-skipping Democrats with a goal of getting them to the polls.  The program uses an innovative “commit to vote” postcard that the voter signs as a commitment to vote in the midterm election, and then the card is returned to them before each election. Across CA-04 and CA-07, volunteers visited thousands of doors of midterm skipping Democrats and collected voters commitments: 2,486 commitments were recruited in CA-04. In CA-07 we obtained 1212, of which 939 were in our trackable voter universe.

In the November 2018 election across both districts, 84% of the CAT-touched voters went to the polls. Among the same universe of midterm-skipping Democrats not touched by CAT, only 75% voted, netting a 9% voting lift. More detailed results, including those by Congressional district and county, can be found in the attached spreadsheet.

“Every fourth door knock activated a 2018 vote by someone who had skipped voting in 2014,” said Ellen Debach-Riley, CAT site leader from Roseville for CA-04. “Our training program attracted new-to-canvassing canvassers who enthusiastically came back to canvass with us even after they had gone off to volunteer with candidate campaign efforts.”

“In CA-07 we’ve seen a widespread post-election demand from volunteers for the CAT program to return in 2020,” said Cheryl McKinney, site leader for CA-07. “In all our post-election debrief conversations, volunteers described their experiences with the CAT program as having exceeded expectations and the best canvassing experience they had. Volunteers gave it high marks for having great training for new canvassers, for having a clear goal, and for giving more thought to volunteer morale and satisfaction than any other canvassing operation they volunteered for in 2018.”

In addition to these GOTV pledge cards collected by direct canvassing, CAT volunteers across the country, including in four states, supported the GOTV program.  They opened up their homes and hosted postcard-writing parties, sending thousands of hand-written GOTV postcards to midterm skipping Democratic voters reminding them to vote in the midterms. Analysis of the impact of voting of these postcards is still underway.

“Our biggest limitation in 2018 was the inability to coordinate our efforts with county parties and Democratic candidates who won their primary.” said Treasurer Shabbir Imber Safdar. “For the 2020 cycle, we are going to shut down our PAC and bring our program in-house to county Democratic parties or to other entities allowed to coordinate with candidates. Our goal is to bring our volunteers and donors to work with and support the targeting needs of the local county Democratic party. We expect that our program will achieve two key goals:  firstly, flip downballot red seats blue; and secondly, reactivate voters among the lapsed base voter universe long before the primary is even over.”

CAT is taking inquiries from interested county Democratic parties and other entities allowed to coordinate with candidates from now until March 15th, 2019, after which CAT will decide what entities to partner with for the 2020 cycle. You can find an example outline of a partnership between CAT And a local party committee on our website. To start discussions, please contact Treasurer Shabbir Imber Safdar at 415-630-3736 or [email protected]

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  • Marcy Rothenberg
    commented 2019-04-10 17:27:58 -0700
    This is great information, and a terrific use of postcards to boost turnout. Sharing with my San Fernando Valley Indivisible group (we’re big postcard-writers, but yours is a novel approach) and will hold onto this info for further blogging on the subject (at